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Biochar Application Instructions 

The Biochar should ideally be placed near the soil’s surface in the root zone, where the bulk of nutrient cycling and uptake by plants takes place.  In cases of new landscaping or construction areas, deeper placement is preferable. The likelihood of wind erosion is significantly reduced when pre-mixed with compost, watered down and thoroughly incorporated into the soil.  

Please Note: Biochar is not a fertiliser, but rather a nutrient carrier and a habitat for microorganisms. First of all, Biochar needs to be inoculated (charged) to become biologically active in order to efficiently utilize its soil-enhancing properties. There are numerous methods of activating and producing substrates similar to terra preta aside from mixing Biochar with compost. Biochar can also be mixed with liquid manures (Compost Tea) and applied as a slurry.  

Biochar is extremely porous and has a huge surface area of 300-500 square meters per gram. Due to its high porosity, Biochar can incorporate up to six times its own weight in water and dissolved nutrients. This property is called adsorption capacity (AC) and depends on the pyrolyzed biomass and the pyrolysis temperature. The highest adsorption capacity of Biochar is achieved within the temperature range of 450 ° C to 700 ° C.

 

Another important feature regarding the particular nutrient dynamics of Biochar is its high cation exchange capacity (CEC). The CEC is a measure of the ability to bind positively charged ions (cations) on Biochar’s surface and make them available later, under appropriate conditions, to plants and microorganisms. While CEC depends on the surface of Biochar, it is also a chemical value, which increases through oxygen and contact with the soil and reaches its maximum value only after some time. A high CEC prevents the leaching of mineral nutrients, such as organic nutrients, and assures high nutrient availability. Further, a high CEC also binds toxic molecules, thereby protecting the soil.

The combination of Biochar’s high AC and CEC make it a perfect nutrient carrier. Microorganisms find ideal habitats in and around the Biochar through these absorbed nutrients, which, in turn, benefits the entire soil microbial life and promotes the potential for symbiotic microorganisms and plant roots.

Principles of Biochar Charging/Inoculation

If Biochar is incorporated pure and without activation into the soil, its high adsorption capacity and increasing CEC will result in the absorption and fixing of available nutrients and water in the soil. This may lead to inhibition of plant growth, at least in the beginning (several months to a year), depending on the soil’s nutrient content. This may not be an issue if your soil is already nutrient rich. To prevent this, it is recommended that prior to Biochar’s application, Biochar should be:

  1. Loaded with nutrients and water

  2. Colonized with microorganisms to ensure the fixed nutrients are more easily available to plants

  3. Aged by oxidation to bring CEC close to its maximum.

There are many different viable processes in charging Biochar and, thus, producing terra preta soil-like substrates. These variables are adjusted and modified depending on location, culture, climate, and existing techniques. Many of these procedures have evolved over time or in accordance with good agricultural practice. While there is no universal formula (although patents have already been registered), the following basic principles hold:

  1. Enough moisture present so that nutrients can dissolve and the pores of the coal can charge

  2. A high diversity of organic nutrients in order to prevent shortage of certain nutrients

  3. The most important nutrients for microbial colonization are organic carbon and nitrogen, which are particularly limiting in fresh coal

  4. The C / N ratio of the Biochar-substrate should be 25 to 35

  5. The duration of the charge should be at least 14 days

  6. Inoculation with soil-borne microbes through the addition of humus-rich soil, compost tea, compost, or by selected microorganisms

How To Videos for Biochar Activation/Inoculation

Additional Note: Use of unfiltered city tap water should be avoided as a means of irrigating your garden as it contains chlorine which kills the soil microbes which are beneficial to plants. Therefore, one should use a good inline activated carbon filter to remove the chlorine before watering your garden or fill some 5 gallon buckets of tap water and allow it to sit 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water. Another alternative is to harvest rain water and store in 55 gallon plastic drums.

 

For conventional agricultural and horticultural uses, here are suggested applications:

Vegetable & Flower Beds:

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Spread 1/2-1" over area and incorporate with other amendments to 4"-6".  Wet down the Biochar and amendments after  you have added them.  If you have raised beds, Biochar only need be added to those areas.  Typically this is a one-time addition of Biochar, and ideally less and less amendments will be needed the next seasons due to Biochar's ability to hold on to nutrients.

 

In addition, our Biochar supports a massive increase in the microbiology of the soil due to the massive surface area and nanotube structure which provides them a comfortable home. This increase in microbiology is the basis for recycling of nutrients which provides sustainable production and higher yields, while reducing the inputs to almost nothing.

Starts, Seedlings & Plugs:

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Lay a thick line of Biochar along the planting line & dibber or trowel into the seeding medium prior to planting seedlings or plugs. No more than 5% Biochar is required with other amendments.  Water after incorporating the seeds/plugs or starts. Having seeds exposed early on to Biochar gives them the best possible start at germination and growth.                 

Hydroponics:

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Add 1 tablespoon of Tree of Life Biotech Powdered Biochar to 1 quart of your liquid nutrients. Our Powdered Biochar has exceptional cationic & anionic exchange capacity. Use product has been used in controlled trials with liquid nutrients and the results were substantial, greater roots, more vigorous plants, and greater budding.

Pots:

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For seeding trays, dust on Tree of Life Biotech Medium Biochar, in the seed row. Make sure the Biochar is in contact with the base of the trough so it will be in contact with the seeds rooting area.  For  filling flats or media for pots, add 2-5% Biochar to the medium.  The addition of Biochar increases aeration and water exchange with the roots.  It makes nutrients more bio-available.  

Lawns & Turf:

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For lawns & turf use the Tree of Life Biotech Small or Powder size Biochar. Aerate mechanically or use forks with tines to make 3"-4" holes.  Use lawn fertilizer spreader or sprinkle in Biochar to fill the holes.  Water in.  The Biochar will spread out on its own. Typically this is also a one time application and less amendments as well as water will be needed each season.     

Trees:

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Make a trench at least 4' deep around the tree's "dripline" - the drip line refers to the areas you would get once the tree has reached its mature size, if you drew a circle on the soil corresponding to the size of the tree's crown. Apply biochar as close to tree's root zone as possible. For trees you can also us an "air excavation tool".Then cover with compost, other amendments and soil.

Composting:

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For composting, use Tree of Life Biotech Chip size Biochar. In a tumbling composter, mix 5% Biochar by volume and incorporate into the composting process. For pile composting shake a layer of Biochar with each addition of organic material.  The addition of Biochar will speed up the composting process, reduce odors, and ultimately give you a higher-quality compost. Ideally, you would add the Biochar early in the state of composting. 

Targeted applications:

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Where precise data on soil characteristics and farm machinery equipped with geographical positioning is available, it is possible to apply Biochar preferentially to areas of fields where fertility is low or drought or water-logging challenges exist. Efficacy can be seen at as low as 2% application. Premix Biochar with other amendments prior to adding to machinery. 

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