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Biochar in Organic Farming
P. Borthakur K., R. Bhattacharyya K.,
Published in
Pages: 109 - 134
There are currently relatively few studies on the use of biochar in organic farming systems, yet there is much that can be learned from historical use charcoal in agriculture and contemporary research in conventional agriculture. From the citrus fields of Japan to basket willow stands of north Great Britain to the famous Terra Preta soils of Amazon Basin, farmers have used biochar, the practice of burying charcoal in soil to improve fertility and tilth for centuries. Biochar has recently had a revival in modern agriculture with this carbon (C)-rich material being widely used as a means of improving soil tilth and promote a more sustainable agriculture. The purpose of this chapter is to briefly describe the nature and properties of biochar and its potential impact on the fertility and function of soils following incorporation with an emphasis on organic agriculture. We briefly review biochar generation and limitations associated with centralized production and distribution. We then discuss in detail the influence of biochar application on soil properties and crop production using organic examples where possible. Finally, we discuss the specific use of biochar in organic farming systems and highlight the San Juan Island experience wherein replicated studies were conducted on ten independent organic farms to assess the influence of locally produced wood biochar on soil properties and processes and crop productivity on the San Juan Islands, WA, USA.
About the journal
JournalOrganic Farming