At Rexius, we’re all about using the finest, all-natural ingredients in our products, and biochar is one of our favorites. There’s a reason — well, a few reasons — that we add it to our Bio-Tope™ Soil Amendment and our premium, bagged Opus Grows mixes. We asked Sales Manager and Production Supervisor Jordan Lauch to break it all down and answer a few questions that you might have about biochar. Like, for starters, what is it?
What exactly is biochar?
Jordan Lauch: Biochar is a unique type of charcoal. It’s created using pyrolysis, which is when biomass, like wood and other organic matter, is thermally decomposed with a limited supply of oxygen. After the decomposition, you’re left with a material that’s really rich in carbon.
What are the benefits of using biochar in soil?
JL: Biochar has a ton of surface area. One gram of biochar has the same surface area as a basketball court. That means that there are all kinds of places for microbes to live, so you get enhanced microbial activity. That can improve the soil’s nutrient exchange capacity. Biochar’s immense surface area also increases water retention capacity and better distributes moisture throughout the soil. Since it’s a super stable material, you also get nearly permanent soil structure.
What is unique about the Rexius biochar?
JL: The biochar that Rexius uses in soil mixes has been “cultured” using our composting process. This means that active microbes are already inhabiting it, ready to help nurture your plants even before they need it.
When and where does biochar naturally occur?
JL: One of the places Biochar naturally occurs is in the aftermath of forest fires.
Your passion seems to be sustainable agriculture. What is biochar’s larger role in that?
JL: Because biochar is such a stable material, it has the opportunity to enhance our soils for an incredibly long time, not just for a single growing season. It’s also one of the easiest ways for us to put the carbon back into the earth.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of biochar?
JL: It gives growers an advantage over “traditional” or “conventional,” non-organic growing techniques. My hope is that through better soil science, we will be able to increase organic farmers’ yield, so it will actually be more cost-effective to use organic practices and not conventional fertilizers.
If you’d like to learn more about Biochar watch the video below, featuring the long-term Northwest biochar enthusiast, John Miedema.
Photo Source: Department of Environmental Systems Science -- Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems