Mostly Im doing it to try to loosen my clayish soil and because its free so might as well try it out. AND its fun to burn stuff… Now I just need to get the neighbors to quit calling the fire department!
Biochar is recognised as offering a number of benefits for soil health. Many benefits are related to the extremely porous nature of biochar. This structure is found to be very effective at retaining both water and water-soluble nutrients. Soil biologist Elaine Ingham indicates the extreme suitability of biochar as a habitat for many beneficial soil micro organisms. She points out that when pre charged with these beneficial organisms biochar becomes an extremely effective soil amendment promoting good soil, and in turn plant, health.
Biochar has also been shown to reduce leaching of E-coli through sandy soils depending on application rate, feedstock, pyrolysis temperature, soil moisture content, soil texture, and surface properties of the bacteria.
For plants that require high potash and elevated pH, biochar can be used as a soil amendment to improve yield.
Biochar can improve water quality, reduce soil emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce nutrient leaching, reduce soil acidity, and reduce irrigation and fertilizer requirements. Biochar was also found under certain circumstances to induce plant systemic responses to foliar fungal diseases and to improve plant responses to diseases caused by soilborne pathogens.
The various impacts of biochar can be dependent on the properties of the biochar, as well as the amount applied, and there is still a lack of knowledge about the important mechanisms and properties. Biochar impact may depend on regional conditions including soil type, soil condition (depleted or healthy), temperature, and humidity. Modest additions of biochar to soil reduce nitrous oxide N
2O emissions by up to 80% and eliminate methane emissions, which are both more potent greenhouse gases than CO2.
Studies have reported positive effects from biochar on crop production in degraded and nutrient–poor soils. The application of compost and biochar under FP7 project FERTIPLUS has had positive effects in soil humidity, and crop productivity and quality in different countries. Biochar can be designed with specific qualities to target distinct properties of soils. In an Columbian savanna soil, biochar reduced leaching of critical nutrients, created a higher crop uptake of nutrients, and provided greater soil availability of nutrients. At 10% levels biochar reduced contaminant levels in plants by up to 80%, while reducing total chlordane and DDX content in the plants by 68 and 79%, respectively. On the other hand, because of its high adsorption capacity, biochar may reduce the efficacy of soil applied pesticides that are needed for weed and pest control. High-surface-area biochars may be particularly problematic in this regard; more research into the long-term effects of biochar addition to soil is needed.