Adding biochar with compost can create a lot of benefits for your soil. The organic matter in compost charging up the biochar to maximize nature’s power for a healthy soil. It is also important to know that using biochar during the composting process has additional benefits to improve your compost’s ability to better your soil health. Use biochar in the composting process to reduced nitrogen loss, increased microbial activity, reduce odor and reduce the time needed for a mature compost product.
What is Composting?
Composting is a centuries old process used to increase the soil organic matter and get important nutrients to your plants. The composting process uses microbes and bacteria to breakdown plant material to a more functional soil conditioner. The increased microbial activity for an extended time in the pile of plant material will rapidly decompose the material and increase the temperature of the pile to a level that destroys bad bacteria and bugs that are unwanted in your soil.
What benefits does Biochar add when using it in compost?
Reduced nitrogen loss
A clear benefit of compost with biochar is its ability to absorb and hold onto nitrogen. This is a gamechanger for compost. By increasing its nitrogen levels the finished product is a premium soil amendment.
Increase in nitrate and reduction in ammonia
By adding biochar to compost there is generally an increase in fungal activity that corresponds with the increase in nitrates and lower ammonia levels.
Accelerate the time to a mature compost pile
By adding biochar to your compost pile you will see temperatures increase faster and a reduction of total time needed to achieve a mature compost material.
Increased microbial activity
Biochar provides a structure to support microbes and results in greater microbial.
The bulk density of biochar is lighter than compost and will lighten the overall weight of the compost blend for easier handling.
Biochar is a lighter structure that does not decompose over 100’s of years. The granules and flakes of biochar will create a more manageable compost blend for planting.
Replaces the need for peat and vermiculite
Provides a clean dark color
Restoring Soil Health
By using Wakefield you are:
- adding organic carbon to your soil to increase water retention and nitrogen absorption.
- letting nature grab more nitrogen and keep it in the soil through the additional microbes inoculated into the biochar.
- reducing the potential of disease in the soil.
- creating an amazingly healthy living ecosystem in your soil that your plants need to thrive year after year.
Biochar carries with it an ‘add-on’ benefit when using it with compost. Composting can create an odor and, depending on the feedstock, that odor may be unwelcome when you are working with it. Anyone using manure in the feedstock will understand that point very clearly. The raw compost material does eventually cook down and the odors are manageable. Using biochar will reduce the initial odors and reduce the long-term nuisance of odors in a compost pile.
Biochar and Compost Mix Help Restore The Health To Your Soil
Here is a use case of the benefits of BioChar in compost in action:
In North Carolina a biochar consulting group supported the revitalization of land near a landfill that had been eroded to an almost desolate landscape. In order to keep the hill intact the soil had to be repaired — reborn! A mix of biochar and compost was the perfect prescription to restart the soil down a path to a balance of healthy bacteria, nutrients, water and plant growth!
In a very short period of time (~2 weeks) not only did the field see the grass seed germinate. It was thriving! There have to be many factors beyond the biochar to make this happen. The consulting group understood that biochar needs organic to charge up the soil and that just putting biochar in desolate soil would not provide the immediate benefits everyone hopes for. In this case, a 50/50 mix of biochar and compost at a rate of 1/4 lb a square foot was applied.
After a quick month of letting nature it take its course the hill showed almost no resemblance to its former self. With no further adieu I give you the same horribly infertile soil after 4 weeks of a biochar and compost mix and some grass seed:
A fantastic display of using biochar to reclaim land. Whether you are gardening, farming, or building a landfill retaining wall you can rely on biochar to make your plant production grow to its fullest.
Live long and prosper!
Tips for Composting with BioChar
- Biochar works best if applied early in the composting process
- Consider 5-15% by volume of the pile with compost
- There is never a bad time to use biochar with compost. If you have an existing pile of compost or if you have already put your compost in the garden it’s appropriate to add biochar to the soil mix.