How Biochar Can Help Counter Pests Applying biochar to your soil suppresses insect pests naturally while boosting plant fertility and growth. Unlike chemical pesticides, biochar does not harm people, domestic animals, or wildlife. Plant pests wreak havoc in your garden. While using pesticides on your plants can eliminate harmful insects, these insecticides also eradicate beneficial insects and are not good for the environment. Learn how to buy the right biochar for your garden’s needs. Wakefield BioChar products include premium biochar and a compost + biochar blend that helps you enjoy a beautiful lawn or garden with less work. How Does Biochar Get Rid of Bugs? Soil insect pests are particularly damaging to garden plants and crops. These insects live above and below the ground. While you can see many soil insect pests on plants, you cannot view what is happening beneath the earth. Biochar can help suppress the insect pests that are below ground. Before planting, it is wise to use a shovel to obtain a soil sample and see what types of pests are infesting the soil. Various biochar studies on soilborne pathogens show that biochar effectively suppresses soilborne pathogens and pests. Biochar has a huge surface area, an ideal habitat for beneficial microorganisms and fungi. By providing such a welcoming habitat, biochar helps protect these microorganisms from their natural enemies. Biochar is particularly effective in suppressing nematodes, minute worm-like organisms that attack plant roots. According to a September 2021 edition of the journal Phytopathology, biochar contributes to the control of root and fungal pathogens “through modification of root exudates, soil properties, and nutrient availability.” Biochar may influence changes in the soil’s microbial activity that influence the motility and colonization of plant pathogens. A study published in the November 2022 edition of the journal Plantsfound that biochar showed suppression efficiencies of 86 percent for fungi, 50 percent for nematodes, 96 percent for bacteria, and complete suppression of oomycetes–among the most devastating of plant pathogens– and viruses. Biochar is considered a major part of an integrated pest and pathogen management system. Benefits of Biochar Exactly what is biochar, and why is it so useful for your lawn and garden? This soil amendment consists of organic materials heated at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen, a process known as pyrolysis. Native people in the Amazon Basin used a form of biochar 2,000 years ago on poor jungle soils to create Terra Preta, a rich black soil that remains extremely fertile to this day. Besides pest suppression, other benefits of biochar include: Improved Drainage When biochar is added to the soil, drainage should improve as the water retention capacity increases. Less leaching occurs. Aeration Biochar’s porous structure helps to aerate compacted soils. This improved aeration allows better water flow throughout the soil, which aids in root growth. Nutrient Retention Biochar helps keep nutrients in the soil by reducing runoff and erosion. Because biochar aids soils in retaining moisture, roots receive water more efficiently. Plants can better survive drought conditions because biochar helps retain soil moisture. Microbial Activity The addition of biochar increases microbial activity and the health of the microbial community. This, in turn, increases the nutrient levels in the soil. Reduced Toxicity The use of biochar reduces plant uptake of heavy metals in contaminated soils. As a soil amendment, biochar can bind heavy metals and pesticides. What to Know Before Applying Biochar For best results, apply biochar to the roots of plants and trees in the early spring. Amend your soil using 5 to 10 percent of biochar by volume. Use only the amount directed. There is no benefit in applying additional amounts of biochar. When top dressing biochar to lawns, aerate the area beforehand. We recommend 1 cubic foot of biochar for every 700 square feet of lawn. Depending on your soil type, supplement biochar with organic compost or fertilizer. Biochar is especially adept at improving the fertility of poor soils. After application, biochar remains in the soil for centuries, if not longer. Learn More from Wakefield BioChar There are numerous ways in which you can improve your garden with biochar. When you use biochar, you are doing more than boosting soil fertility and increasing plant health and crop yield. You are also helping to combat climate change, one of humanity’s greatest threats. According to the EPA, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. For every pound of biochar applied, two pounds of carbon dioxide are sequestered.