Biochar for soil and personal health

So many uses for biochar. It can improve your soil and therefore crop growth, but can it also reduce health care costs? This from a research study at Rice University.  When I first saw the headline, I thought they were referring to the reduced emissions from burning the tree removals as piles to burning cleaner to make the biochar.

Nitrogen cycle


Biochar could reduce local air pollution from agriculture by reducing emissions of nitric oxide from soil, according to Rice University researchers. (Credit: Ghasideh Pourhashem/Rice University)

Nope, the research was showing the health-care cost savings from the impacts biochar has on the soil-nitrogen cycle by reducing nitrous oxide,  and probably reducing a related compound and smog precursor – nitric oxide (NO) emissions from the soil.  Many studies have measured nitrous oxide, but few measured NO.  Biochar added to the soil has been shown to improve crop yields and “lessen the need for fertilizer and reduce pollutants by storing nitrogen that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere”. ¹

Communities surrounded by farmland would benefit the most from the improved air quality.  Research in four other countries showed a  0 to 67% reduction in nitric oxide emissions depending on soild type, meteorological conditions and the chemical properties of the biochar. Using the higher figure in their calculations, they determined that a 67 percent reduction in NO emissions in the United States could reduce annual health impacts of agricultural air pollution by up to $660 million. Savings through the reduction of airborne particulate matter — to which NO contributes — could be 10 times larger than those from ozone reduction, they wrote.

Give us a shout if you’d like to explore making or using biochar.

¹Data and quotes from a Rice University News Release: “Biochar could clear the air in more ways than one“; July 26, 2017

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