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What is Biochar. Biochar meaning and definition
Biochar is mainly a valuable soil amendment. It is originally found in the Amazon as part of historic
soil management practices. Researchers named this, Terra Preta, or “Black Soil” as biochar makes the
soil black. Studies of Terra Preta have led to a deep appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a
soil amendment. Terra Preta can increase food security in areas with severely depleted soils, little
organic resources, and lack of water and fertilizers. It also improves water quality and quantity by
increasing soil retention of nutrients. Otherwise, the nutrients would leach into groundwater and can
cause pollution. This is because Terra Preta can trap carbon in soils for hundreds of years. That’s why
most soil around Terra Preta could not be farmed on.
Biochar was considered a waste product by the Amazon natives. The culture of Terra Preta
developed when it was apparently first used to prevent infectious diseases. It was added to feces in
the settlements and sterilized them (http://www.ithaka-journal.net/terra-preta-modell-einerkulturtechnik?
lang=en). Then through composting, with added biochar, it was then used as a
fertilizer. This caused it to be full of nutrients.
Other than a soil amendment, it has many more uses. Some other of popular uses includes a
substitute for charcoal, food supplement, energy source and animal farming. From our experience,
when used in animal feeding, we notice a drastic decrease in smell. Just like how carbon helps the
human body, it also helps the animals. The animals are also calmer and become easier to handle.
At Ödevata, we also use it for our heating system. Our biochar heating system now provides 100% of
the heat on the camping. Instead of releasing the smoke produced when making the biochar, we
direct it into a separate chamber and burn it. It becomes an energy source and it produces heat for
the camp.
We’re passionate about the future of biochar, and we’re proud to be amongst the first to introduce it
to Sweden. We give courses, in Swedish, where you can learn more about it and its uses.