Friday, 27 April 2012

biochar experiment

The claims made for biochar are impressive.

Biochar is granulated charcoal. It was first discovered as a soil additive used by South American farmers before western invaders arrived. What has caught the imagination is that unlike other organic additives that break down in the soil, biochar remains - as does the increased fertility it brings.

On Nottinghamshire sandlands, the soil is only made productive by pouring on huge quantities of oil-derived fertilisers and pesticides in addition to the precious water that is abstracted to keep plants growing.

We are all too old and wise to believe in panaceas ... but wouldn't it be great if biochar could play a part in increasing soil productivity and therefore in giving us more food with reduced inputs?

So, this week I've embarked on the Big Biochar experiment.

I've planted two square metres of Sturon summer onions and added biochar to one metre. I've lightly forked the biochar into the soil as onions have shallow roots.

I've arranged for ome of my fellow plotholders to take part in the experiment too. We'll all be doing it 'our way' and feeding our results back to the central database.

I will record progress and report it on the blog.

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