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What does science say about biochar?

What does science say about biochar?

There is a huge amount of scientific research available on biochar's benefits as a soil amendment.

Biochar increases water retention

Water retention, or water holding capacity, is the measure of your soil's ability to retain moisture.

  • A 2013 study found that biochar application more than doubled the water holding capacity (from 16% to 32.5%) in loamy sand soils that are prevalent in North America. 
  • A 2012 study in Iowa found that just a 6% (by soil volume) biochar application increased local water holding capacity by 23% relative to control.
  • In our 2022 product test with PHD Jonathan Mongomemry, we measured a 30% increase in water holding capacity from a 15% application of biochar.

Note that these studies were using naked biochar (not activated) to limit variances. Activating biochar as we do in our products will only further increase the water holding capacity of biochar.

Biochar increases nutrient retention

Along with water and sunlight, nutrients are essential for plants to thrive. 

  • A 2019 study found that biochar application increased soil-available phosphorus by 45% across a full range of soil conditions and experimental conditions.
  • A 2018 analysis (summary of 208 peer reviewed studies) found that biochar application on average increase N₂ fixation by 63% and N update by 9% 
  • In our 2022 product test we completed with PHD Jonathan Mongommery, our biochar increased magnesium and calcium by up to 60%.

Biochar increases microbial activity

Nutrients are useless for plants without microbes to cycle them into usable forms. Soil quality is directly related to the microbial life it can support. 

  • A 2016 analysis of 80 peer reviewed studies found that biochar application increased soil microbial biomass carbon by 25% on average. 
  • A 2017 analysis of 550 papers found that there was a 25% increase in soil microbial biomass nitrogen with the addition of biochar.
  • A 2019 analysis of 417 peer reviewed papers found that on average, biochar application led to a 39% increase in Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). This is linked with microbial community composition and diversity).

Activated biochar = better results

Although the above results are impressive, we expect for you to get even better results with our unique biochar activation formula. Scientific studies tend to often use non-activated (naked) biochar to reduce variables inputs, but it's the activation of biochar that gives it so many of it's beneficial properties.