1. What is biochar?
Biochar refers to the biomass coal used to enrich the soil.
2. Who invented the method of soil enrichment by biochar?
It is an ancient practice used more than 5000 years ago by the Amazonian Indians to make the very poor fertile lands they occupied. Nowadays, we can still observe, on these lands once enriched, an exceptional fertility, much higher than the one usually observed in these regions! Today, many farmers have replicated this technique around the world and have confirmed that they have obtained very fast harvests much better than before …
3. How does biochar work?
Scientific studies have shown that buried biochar acts as a “sponge” by absorbing and retaining water and nutrients in the soil. It becomes more rich than the soil without biochar, and plants grow much better.
4. Why do you need to add a complementary fertilizer in addition to the biochar?
Biochar itself does not provide nutrients, but retains those present in the soil. The complementary fertilizer thus makes it possible to bring these essential nutrients fixed by the biochar and thus more easily accessible to the plants.
5. I already use a fertilizer for my crops. Do I have to stop this treatment when I start using biochar?
No, it’s the opposite ! The biochar will allow the fertilizer to remain stored longer in the soil and the plants will therefore benefit more. Moreover, adding biochar allows most of the time to obtain better crops using less fertilizer and applying it less often than in soil without biochar. The addition of biochar should not be repeated as often as conventional fertilization, which makes this method very economical!
6. Does adding biochar to my field pose a risk of toxicity to my crops?
As the plants do not absorb the biochar itself but only benefit from the nutrients it stores, the application of biochar with fertilizer is no more dangerous than the application of fertilizer only … In fact the only “danger” is … nothing happens! But the biochar tests proposed in the framework of this project are carried out on small square plots of 4 meters of side and thus optimize the search for the best conditions of culture.
7. How long does the biochar remain stored in the soil?
The exact duration of biochar storage in the soil remains mysterious, and scientists have not been able to give an accurate answer yet. However, as the lands enriched by the Amazonian Indians thousands of years ago still show fertility above normal, everything suggests that this period is in millennia!
8. Does this technique work every time?
If the theoretical principle of enrichment by biochar is now well understood, its practical application is subject to the still poorly known influence of several parameters that can significantly vary the results of the experiment: type of biochar used (typha , rice balls …), amount of biochar buried in the soil, complementary fertilizer used (compost, manure, chemical fertilizer …). Hence the need to do biochar tests beforehand! The tests proposed in this project thus make it possible to determine the best values to choose for these parameters in order to obtain the most fertile soil possible.