Compost + Biochar: The Best Way to Restore the Soil

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Let’s keep it simple. Biochar will work much better when mixed with compost first and the two are allowed to sit together for two weeks before being added to your planting soil.

This step is called “inoculation” or “charging”. In fact, the original biochar or Terra Preta as it is called when mixed with compost was found in the Amazon in a similar condition. Not pure biochar added to soil, but with compost or an organic fertilizer equivalent. You are welcome to add the broken pottery shards as the original Terra Preta do Indio did. Please let us know if there were any additional results.

Biochar on its own gives beneficial soil microbes a fantastic place to live. But on its own it does not provide the microorganisms. Indeed, considering the amount of micropores in a small piece of biochar, a massive space is offered to house these tiny beneficial critters that in turn contribute to soil health and in providing nutrients for your plants. 

ARTi+Biochar + Compost, Easy as ABC

ARTi’s approach is A+B+C, which is a combination of composted manure with biochar. This reduces GHG emissions while making for a better soil amendment. Biochar is a highly porous, carbon-rich material that is produced by heating organic material in the absence of oxygen. It has a large surface area that can hold water and nutrients, and provides a habitat for beneficial microorganisms in the soil. It also has a long lifespan, meaning it can persist in the soil for hundreds or thousands of years.

Raw biochar will absorb soil nutrients, moisture, and microbial life, lowering the soil’s capacity for plant growth. But this is just a passing phase. The biochar will eventually distribute the nutrients to the plants, increasing yields over time. Yet, you can inoculate or charge biochar by combining it with organic material in the form of compost in order to avoid this first soil nutrient absorption phase. Biochar and compost are organic soil additives that can improve the fertility and health of the soil due to their physical and chemical properties. 

 

As a compost additive, biochar provides multiple benefits including boosting microbial activity and composting efficiency as well as humification. (Guo, Xiao-xia, Et al., 2020, The role of biochar in organic waste composting and soil improvement) (Link) Humus is a dark organic substance in soil and is created when plant and animal debris break down. It is a type of organic material for soil. It has lots of nutrients and helps keep the soil moist. 

 

Because of the substantial carbon content of ARTi Biochar, the soil’s physical, chemical, and biological characteristics are all improved, as is the soil fertility.

This organic soil supplement is a good alternative for soil nutrition since it aids in the longer-term retention of nutrients in the soil.

When mixed with compost, the mixture offers even more advantages by enriching the soil with vital nutrients and bacteria. Long-term soil improvement is made possible with ARTi Biochar, a highly stable soil amendment solution that doesn’t degrade quickly.

By using biochar in composting, we can reduce the amount of organic waste that goes to landfill and create a valuable resource that can help to support more sustainable food production.

How does compost add to soil fertility and biochar ability? 

Biochar and compost together improve soil aggregation, allowing for air and water flow, and increase the presence of beneficial soil microbes by using compost and biochar. When biochar and compost are used  together, the outcomes are often better than either one treated alone. The most benefit is obtained when biochar is added to compost at an early stage. Biochar has been shown to accelerate the maturation of compost. (Nguyen,Et al., Evaluate the role of biochar during the organic waste composting process: A critical review, Chemosphere, Volume 299,2022) (Link) This may be seen in the comparison of treated and untreated compost, which exhibits reduced respiration rates, lower ammonia levels, and greater seedling germination rates. Although the precise mechanisms are unclear, it is most likely connected to biochar’s capacity to sustain microbial activity.

Compost is a mixture of decomposed organic matter that is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.

It is normally created by putting organic waste, including food scraps, yard trimmings, and other garbage, in a compost bin or pile and allowing them to decompose over time. The addition of nutrients and improved soil structure are all benefits provided by compost. 

The mixture produced when biochar and compost are blended can offer the soil numerous advantages. While the compost is a source of nutrients and helpful bacteria, the biochar can aid in the retention of moisture and nutrients in the soil. They can all work together to enhance soil fertility, structure, and plant growth.

So, I bought biochar. Now I have to buy compost? Or do I make it myself?  

You bought the biochar so why should you buy anything else? Sometimes to make something great you need a few ingredients. Store bought compost is about $5 for a 40-pound bag. Or you can trade for a small amount of compost from a neighbour for someone on a Facebook group. Additionally, if you have the space and place to make your own compost, you can add the biochar to the compost process earlier for an even more potent result. If you want to try composting at home as a start, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a website on the topic. (Link)

The most typical method is to combine compost with biochar and let the mixture settle for at least 10 days. Compost and biochar combined at a 50/50 ratio will be effective for charging.

You can purchase biochar items that have already been charged if you don’t have the time or resources to activate it. We have ARTi Biochar Compost ready to use (Link). It includes quality compost with 10% biochar produced from woody material. Biochar is charcoal rich material for soil quality enhancement derived from biomass. In addition to all these benefits, our formulation is one of our best tools on the fight against climate change as it sequesters 2 times its own weight of carbon e.g., 1 ton of Biochar sequesters up to 2 tons of CO2.

Tomato plant with biochar + compost 

Biochar is a key solution for sustainable soil restoration, waste management, and carbon sequestration. By incorporating biochar and compost into soils, we can nourish plants and create a greener future. Composting can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while biochar has the capacity to sequester carbon over the long term. This combination can help to build healthy soils, support sustainable agriculture, and mitigate climate change.

Further readings: 

Qian, Shixian, Et al., 2023, Biochar-compost as a new option for soil improvement: Application in various problem soils, Science of The Total Environment,

Volume 870, (Link)

Synopsis: Biochar-compost has shown positive performance in the remediation of both dry and saline soils by reducing the threat of soil water scarcity or high salinity and improving the consequent deterioration of soil conditions.

Aina, Bukola, Et al., 2023, Soil Properties and Carbon Sequestration Using Biochar and Compost on an Alfisol in Southwest Nigeria, Digital Economy, Energy and Sustainability. Green Energy and Technology. Springer, Cham. (Link)

Synopsis: Captured carbon through biochar and compost enhanced maize yield and soil properties.

Previous ARTi blog on Gardening with Biochar book (Link)

 

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