Once used by ancient Amazonians to increase soil fertility, biochar fertilizer is gaining traction as one of the best organic fertilizers for garden and agricultural use.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to specific sections)
- What is Biochar Fertilizer?
- 3 Amazing Benefits of Biochar Fertilizer
- How is Biochar Fertilizer Made?
- An Easy-to-Use Biochar Fertilizer: Rosy’s Indoor Potting Mix
What is Biochar Fertilizer?
Biochar fertilizer, also known as enriched biochar, is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that improves soil fertility and plant yield.
It’s produced from biochar — a fine-grained carbon compound that becomes activated or enriched when mixed with a fertilizer like compost. Once you add this mix to your plants, it creates a reservoir of plant nutrients and moisture in the soil, enabling plant nutrient uptake.
And although you probably haven’t heard much about biochar, its existence traces back to early civilizations in the Amazon. Local Amazonians called it terra preta and used this nutrient-rich substance to improve their farmland’s fertility.
Today, biochar fertilizer is considered one of the best organic fertilizers due to its long-term benefits, controlled nutrient release, and sustainability.
3 Amazing Benefits of Biochar Fertilizer
Here are the beneficial effects of biochar on soil's physical and chemical properties:
1. Improved Nitrogen Retention
According to soil science and plant physiology, nitrogen (N) is a vital nutrient for plant growth.
But what does biochar have to do with nitrogen?
Biochar addition retains a higher N concentration in the soil, ensuring plants have less trouble absorbing the nutrient.
In fact, a 2020 study found that biochar fertilizers improved plant nitrogen absorption by 12% more than urea (a popular nitrogen fertilizer). It also achieved a 26% increase in the average corn yield (corn crop productivity) compared to urea.
And by holding on to nutrients and gradually releasing them into the soil, enriched biochar reduces soil nutrient loss caused by leaching. This effectively increases nutrient availability, improving total nitrogen levels and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
Moreover, biochar fertilizers can help capture nutrient ions like ammonium and nitrate, keeping them available for plants. This, in turn, may help reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
Worrisome Fact: Nitrous oxide as a greenhouse gas emission is over 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It’s released from soil and as a byproduct of chemical fertilizer production.
Fortunately, the application of biochar can help reduce carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions, making it a valuable resource against climate change.
2. Soil Water Retention
Biochar addition enhances the soil’s physical properties, like increased soil porosity and surface area, which improves its water retention capacity.
In doing so, biochar boosts soil productivity by:
- Improving plants' access to water.
- Preventing soil from drying.
- Reducing the need for frequent watering.
This makes the fertilizer extremely valuable for areas with depleted soil or low water availability.
3. Enhanced Soil Health
Adding biochar fertilizer to your soil is a great way to boost soil quality and fertility.
It increases the biodiversity of beneficial soil microbes, like bacteria and fungi. These soil microbes, in turn, increase nutrient availability by breaking down organic material like plant residues.
This makes it an excellent alternative to chemical fertilizers.
Remember, excessive use of chemical fertilizer negatively impacts soil properties by decreasing soil pH (creating acidic soil) and soil organic matter content. They also kill soil microorganisms, harming the soil ecosystem.
Moreover, it leads to increased toxic runoff, groundwater contamination through leaching, and emissions of greenhouse gases.
Instead, by using an organic fertilizer like biochar, we can improve soil health, reduce pollution, and fight climate change.
Fun Fact: Biochar’s relationship with fungi could be a factor behind the regeneration of terra preta, which persists in the Amazon.
Other Important Biochar Benefits
In addition to the above benefits, biochar fertilizer also aids plant growth by:
Improving soil productivity and crop yield: A study found that biochar enriched with NPK fertilizer enhanced plant yield by 20% more than standalone NPK fertilizer applications.
NPK is a commonly used fertilizer for indoor plants. It stands for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
- Enhanced soil cation exchange capacity: Biochar helps retain soil nutrient content that’s essential for plant growth. This includes nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, etc.
- Increased soil organic carbon: By stimulating microbial activity and soil organic matter, the application of biochar fertilizer increases soil carbon content. This helps improve soil quality and structure.
- Captures atmospheric carbon dioxide: Biochar fertilizers help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration (trapping carbon in the soil). This happens during biochar production — when carbon dioxide that would normally be released during organic matter decomposition is trapped as a stable carbon compound.
- Long-lasting conditioning: Biochar stability means that it stores carbon in the soil for a long time. But more importantly, its benefits for soil fertility last longer than other inorganic fertilizer options. So, biochar fertilizer also requires lower application rates than most traditional fertilizers.
How is Biochar Fertilizer Made?
Here are the different methods through which biochar based fertilizer can be produced:
- Direct Treatment Method: involves the slow pyrolysis (heating organic feedstock in the absence of oxygen) of nutrient-rich biomass (organic matter). The method produces organic fertilizer with greater N concentration at low temperatures, while higher temperatures enhance the P and K concentrations.
- Pre-Treatment Method: the biomass is treated with nutrient-rich fertilizer before pyrolysis. This allows for selective nutrient addition and results in biochar based fertilizer with better water retention.
- Post-Treatment Method: involves treating biochar with nutrient-rich organic matter or fertilizer post-pyrolysis. The process results in biochar based fertilizer with higher nutrient content, porosity, and cation exchange capacity.
Fun Fact: Biochar production generates renewable bioenergy (biofuel) as a byproduct, adding to its sustainability.
Now if you’re looking to use biochar, why not start with the most-sustainable product in the biochar fertilizer market?
An Easy-to-Use Biochar Fertilizer: Rosy’s Indoor Potting Mix
Rosy’s Indoor Potting Mix is an all-natural, ready-to-use biochar fertilizer crafted specifically for houseplants.
A blend of earth-positive ingredients, like carbon negative biochar, vegan compost, and root-boosting mycorrhizae (fungi), this biochar fertilizer mix:
- Creates the optimal balance between excellent drainage and adequate water retention.
- Enhances plant nutrient uptake and supports the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms.
And as the potting mix enables carbon sequestration, it’s the best product to nurture your plants and the planet.
Biochar fertilizer replicates the benefits of other organic and inorganic fertilizers and facilitates sustainability by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So, it’s a great soil amendment if you want to contribute positively to your garden and the planet’s ecosystem.And if you want a reliable source of enriched biochar, you can bet on Rosy Soil. Try a bag today to experience firsthand the benefits it offers your plants.