Is Biochar the Solution to More Sustainable Farming?

Feb 14, 2024

The Missouri Organic Association will recruit a total of 80 farms to participate in a project that will test the effects of biochar usage in agriculture.

Biochar’s origins lie in the ancient Amazon, but program manager with Missouri Organic Association Jackie Casteel says it “fell to the wayside.” That is, until recently.

The carbon- and nutrient-dense substance, made from biomass like wood chips or animal manure, is the star player in a new project that MOA is pioneering through the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Program. Biochar traps microorganisms that can sequester carbon emissions in the soil for long periods of time, lessening farmers’ environmental impact. It can also help farmers by holding things like fertilizer in the soil.

“Having some aspect of biochar added with fertilizer helps hold it in place in that field, rather than it run off and waste their money on their input,” Casteel says.

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