Biochar : A New Hope for Environment and Agriculture
Text and picture by Muhammad Ayaz
Currently biochar is used for research purpose after its magical effect on crop yield and proven itself as environmental friendly. Biochar is plant matter, such as straw, woody debris, or corn stalks, that has been heated to high temperatures in a low- to no-oxygen environment. The result is a black, carbon-rich material similar to charcoal. Biochar prepared at different temperature shows different properties somewhat fickle.
According to a scientist named Dougherty, biochar is like a sponge. He added that biochar has lots of empty pore spaces in its structure though the outer surface may seem small but internally absolutely massive. “A few ounces of biochar can have an internal surface area such the size of a football field. More biochar has the higher water and nutrient holding capacity”.
Moreover biochar has the secret storage capacity thus its surface tends to have cations/anions charges which enable biochar to attract and capture nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ions, metals, and other compounds. It also attribute means it can trap gases at the water’s surface thus leads to sustainable environment. One of the most important things about biochar is that after its first amendment to soil can exist for thousands of years, which show its long life in soil thus shows its magical effect till its existence.
Fertilizer application has become a common trend throughout the world in order to meet the food requirement with the increasing population challenge. Moreover, it causes environmental pollution along with degrading food quality and economic lost to the farmers. Excessive use of fertilizer leads to ground water table contamination because of the leaching of excessive different nutrients also causes greenhouse gases emission.
During my own experiment I have used two types of biochar i.e. (a) wheat straw biochar prepared at 450°C (b) Tobacco leaf biochar prepared at 450°C in winter wheat and summer maize crops. Both gave significant result in controlling leaching of different nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Moreover it absorbs all the unwanted and dangerous gases like methane, CO2 etc. From my own experiment, I finally found that biochar is highly environment friendly substance that can help to support sustainable environment and productive agriculture.
Fig 1. Ayaz’s field experiment by using biochar
About the author :
Muhammad Ayaz is an IFSA Associate Member from the Asia-Pacific region (Pakistan). He is currently doing master study in College of Resources and Environment at Northwest A&F University Yangling P.R. China. He can be contacted at [email protected]