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.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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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