In the summer of 2022, we introduced you to the ARTi’s Solar Powered BioFilter. This innovative technology utilizes biochar to improve the water quality of lakes or ponds while also producing potent biochar.
It is a biochar filter to remove organic contaminants from water. Water is circulated via a solar powered system. As seen in the previous blog, the BioFilter (Link) was tested at Dale Peterson’s farm and showed promising results. The biochar exposed to the organic contaminants from water has gained properties that are helpful to soil as we will discuss. But also, the filter showed some great results in reducing organic contaminants that cause algae blooms for example.
Algae blooms are a serious problem. Harmful algal blooms can produce dangerous chemicals that can make humans and animals sick or even kill them. They can also cause dead zones in the water and increase the expense of treating drinking water. Biochar is an affordable filtration option and undergoes inoculation. What does this mean? This means inviting beneficial microorganisms to live in it. This gives biochar one of its main soil benefits.
Biochar adsorbents are cost effective and sequester carbon.
We analysed the biochar collected from the water filter as well as the pond water six months after the BioFilter was installed on Dale’s property.
The biochar was shown to have a marked increase in nitrogen (N). The pond water was analysed as well. The biochar had a significant increase in nitrogen (N): Before installing the BioFilter there was a presence of 5 milligrams of organic nitrogen per liter (5 mg/L). Six months later a measurement of the water showed zero (<0 mg/L) milligrams of organic nitrogen. These are amazing results because this can help reduce algae blooms. By reducing the presence of organic nitrogen there is an effect of reducing Nitrite (NO2) and Nitrate (NO3), both of which feed algae blooms.
What were contaminants in a lake are now nutrients for soil after being collected by the biochar in the filter system.
Left: Normal Biochar.Right: Biochar sample from BioFilter
Closer looks at the biochar collected from the BioFilter. It now has properties that normal biochar does not.
Salts and nutrients are glued together. The biochar is adsorbing the organic materials and minerals. Adsorption is when individual molecules, atoms, or ions stick to a surface.This is not to be confused with absorption where a liquid is soaked up into something like a sponge. The BioFilter’s biochar effectively collects nutrients during the filtering process. The biochar from the BioFilter will be an excellent addition to the soil surrounding Dale’s crops.
The biochar collected for the BioFilter can help with reducing soil compaction.
Biochar improves soil structure by reducing compaction. And what is soil compaction? When soil particles are compressed, the amount of space between them is decreased. Soils that have been heavily compacted have a higher density. Water infiltration and drainage occur much slower in compacted soil. Biochar lowers soil bulk density. This can help increase soil aeration which is a factor that allows oxygen to enter soil and reach plant roots.
Reducing the compaction enhances air and water infiltration and promotes crop growth and beneficial microbes. These positive results were achieved after only a few months. Now, this enhanced biochar can be added to the soil on Dale Peterson’s farm.
Farmer conservationist Dale Peterson (left) with ARTi CEO Dr. Bernardo del Camp (Right)