New House, Poor Soil? Let’s See What Biochar and Compost Can Do

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People who buy and get ready to move into a brand-new house have the chance to be the first ones to live there and have everything in top working order. For us at ARTi, soil is one of our first concerns.

The soil must be strong and stable for the foundations of buildings. 

Strengths of soils vary due to the physical characteristics of the soil. A well-structured soil is more stable. If you’re hoping to add satisfying landscaping or a backyard garden, you need to know that improving your soil is crucial. Instead of buying that roll-out, pre-made lawn, consider that there must be a better option. 

The US Midwest where ARTi Headquarters is located has been provided with a wealth of good soil. Still, one of the first steps in turning open land into a subdivision involves scraping out much of that soil. To make way for building foundations, sewer lines, and roadbeds, developers must first remove the topsoil. Topsoil, although valuable, isn’t needed under a house. Even with its richness, topsoil isn’t suitable for a house foundation as it supports a large number of live microorganisms that are constantly decomposing leaves and other organic debris that comes into contact with the soil’s surface. A foundation built over them would inappropriately sink into the soil as they wither away.

ARTi team member, Mercedes del Campo, took the opportunity to salvage a bit of soil from a home construction site and conduct a soil trial to see if ARTi biochar and compost or even just compost would have an effect on the soil. Biochar is known for its soil remediation benefits for the healing of negatively impacted soils. The photo below shows the trial parameters. 

We can already see that our efforts are yielding results. The biochar and compost added combination is proving effective. The possibilities for soil remediation is a big topic in the biochar world. Although it’s not widely considered as a replacement for topsoil, biochar can help prevent further soil nutrient loss and erosion, support the microbial life still present, aid in water retention and help filter out unwanted metals. 

The trial shown above most likely displays the benefits of the support for beneficial microbes and nutrients that biochar and compost together can offer. If biochar can prove to be a reliable means to improve soils on housing construction properties, then it could become a standard addition to soils upon the completion of a building project. ARTi has already conducted some promising work on biochar for lawn care. Which can be viewed at this (Link).

While there is a great deal of research going on with biochar in building materials, not much has been explored with helping the soil around a new housing development. When you get a new house, the health of the soil around it is important but may not be the first thing on your mind. Biochar with compost could be a great choice for revitalizing the soils around your new home. It can also be a healthier and less expensive option than so many chemical fertilizers.  

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