Biochar - Terra preta

This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.

Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer. It can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and fertilizer supplies.

Biochar can improve water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agricultural fertilizers for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution. Biochar and biomass energy production can help combat climate change by displacing fossil fuel use and sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools.

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