Biochar is produced by pyrolysis – heating biomass such as agricultural waste or unmerchantable logging slash in the near absence of oxygen. Similar to charcoal, biochar is a porous and stable form of carbon that can improve soil fertility and water-holding capacity when added to farmlands and forest.
It provides a market for non-merchantable slash from forest management intended to reduce wildfire risk, which otherwise would be burned. By reducing the need for slash pile burning, biochar can improve air quality.
When added to agricultural or forest lands, biochar can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and improve crop yields on marginal land. The pyrolysis process can produce useable, renewable energy in the form of hot water, bio-fuels or biodiesel. Biochar can help stabilize toxins in mining waste and boost revegetation. Each of these environmental benefits also provide an economic boost and create new jobs in rural America.