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Why is the UK so far behind when it comes to biochar soil products?


Research has shown biochar (gardening charcoal) to be very good at restoring soil fertility, and yet you don’t see it in many garden centres. It’s been talked about on popular TV programmes, Countryfile and Gardeners World, but it’s not a staple product.

Why is Biochar not in the gardener’s toolkit? And why is the market only 10 years old in the UK? Surely Biochar can’t have gone unnoticed for so long?

Once upon a time it was common practice to put ash from your fire around your rose bushes in the garden. I’m curious to see if Biochar will be making a comeback in gardening and agriculture.

Mixing charcoal into soil could solve two vital problems: poor soil health and climate change.

The professional trials done by researchers, our team and a local council have shown a small amount of Biochar can vastly improve soil health.

Using a 1:10 ratio of Biochar to soil will:

  • Increase above ground growth up to 30%
  • Increase root development up to 50%
  • Reduce the watering and fertilisation needs up to 50%

Because Biochar is natural, organic and contains zero chemicals or additives – it is literally fine charcoal fragments – it makes a good case for a natural soil enhancer.

We did a trial with a UK Council with positive results, and because Biochar is a Negative Emission Technology, it also provided a way for the Council to offset its carbon emissions.

Our biochar is made from unwanted wood, diverting it from landfill or taken from tree surgeons. This circular economy of wood can provide two main benefits to the end user: healthier soil and a smaller carbon footprint.

I’m praying Biochar will become a giant market with loads of suppliers, not for my sake, but for the environment! Mixing charcoal into soil could solve two growing problems – poor soil health and climate change.

Perhaps Biochar really has gone under the radar, but now more than ever I think it is time we start talking about it’s potential applications. The Biochar market in America is growing fast and Germany takes the lead on Biochar manufacturing technology. I reckon it won’t be long until we start to see an uptake in Biochar here in the UK.

Wouldn’t be amazing if the agriculture and horticulture industries started to use Biochar on a mass scale? Surely Biochar could be rolled out as a practical solution to improve the environment?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, you can comment below or message me on LinkedIn.

In my next article I will explain how Biochar can be used as a carbon offsetting method and why it is a Negative Emission Technology. In my last blog I explained how Biochar works. In short, it’s porosity in the soil acts as a sponge, retaining water and nutrients, thereby increasing microbial life. This growth in microbial biodiversity leads to an increase in soil fertility.

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Biochar is an ancient technology dated back to the Amazon, 4000 years ago. We’ve been trialling our biochar in the UK which is available to buy online on our website. If you like this story then share 👏 and stay tuned!

Lottie has a BSc in Plant Biology and she co-founded Agile Planet which is trialling Biochar across the UK as a sustainable solution to reform soil health.