An Ancient Farming Practice is Getting a New Life

Apr 30, 2024

Bio-char is gaining traction as a regenerative agriculture technique that could improve soil while sequestering carbon. But cost and education are still barriers to more widespread use on farms.


Reducing emissions from farming will be key to meeting this country’s climate goals. Agriculture is the fifth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. One climate-friendly growing technique called biochar involves literally burying carbon in the ground. And as Harvest Public Media’s Kate Grumke reports, proponents say it’s good for crops, too.

KATE GRUMKE, BYLINE: Nick Cuchetti is mixing up something special in a bucket on his family farm in Luebbering, Mo.

NICK CUCHETTI: This is biochar.

GRUMKE: Biochar – it’s a soil amendment, kind of like compost. And it’s a super-hot topic in sustainable agriculture. It looks a lot like charcoal. Instead of burning the organic matter, it’s cooked at a high temperature with almost no oxygen. As Cuchetti pours the biochar onto vegetable beds, you can hear what makes this substance special. It’s extremely hollow and porous.

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