Biochar-Integrated Circular Food System is a novel approach that can increase productivity and long-term sustainability of the world’s food supply. Agricultural wastes such as crop residues, fallen twigs and date palm fronds, animal manure, even animal bones can be converted into biochar, a carbon-rich material. Biochar’s capacity to retain water and nutrients increases productivity. Biochars unique properties allow for applications in soil, aquaponics and fishponds, animal feeds, and waste management. Biochar utilization can be summarized in a circular path in the attached illustration. 1. Crop waste management 2. Clean renewable energy for farmers: cooking and heating, and processing of crops. 3. Drinking water treatment and purification 4. Animal feeding and health, aquaponics and fish pond water treatment 5. Composting of crop residues and manure, market waste, fish processing wastes, 6. Field application of fertilizers Biochar can absorb water by up to 5 times its weight and adsorb nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, making it valuable to agriculture in arid regions such as in the Middle East. Biochar have beneficial effects when used in hydroponics in retaining moisture and nutrients. Water quality is improved when biochar is employed in aquaponics or fish ponds by adsorbing impurities. An analysis of 108 scientific studies revealed that biochar increases crop yields by 25% on average in the acidic, low fertility, and low fertilizer inputs in the tropics. Biochar also increase in tree growth by 38% in the tropics. About 30% of the world’s soils are acidic including 50% of potential arable land. Biochar in effect is an affordable substitute to limestone that can be produced on-site by farmers, avoiding mining and shipping associated carbon emissions. The problem of manure in livestock farms can be addressed through biochar to prevent pollution and prevent the spread of diseases. Manure biochar can be then used to create organic fertilizer for vegetable crops, corn; and trees such as date palms, mangoes, coffee, cacao, etc. Biochar made from plants can be used in maintaining the healthy digestive system of poultry, goats, beef cattle and dairy cows. The effects of biochar improve growth rates, milk production and even reduction of toxins in milk, and reduction of odors. Applying corn stalk-derived biochar in manure composting reduces ammonia and methane emissions. Aside from preventing diseases caused by ammonia in poultry farms, applying biochar in the floors prevents foot-pad disease. The process is carbon negative: 3 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent is stored per ton of biochar that is used in agriculture. One ton of waste biomass is reduced by 5 times its original volume into 200kg of biochar. As much as 50% of the carbon from waste biomass is retained in biochar. Farmers can become the world’s greatest army in reversing global warming. A global effort of enabling farmers to stop burning crop residues in the field and use them for making biochar could well save humanity from global warming and sustain food production by regenerating healthy soils. More carbon can be stored in healthy soils through the roots of plants and the stimulation of plant-beneficial microorganisms. The next 12 years are critical according to the latest report of the IPCC and biochar is the path towards effective, simple and relatively inexpensive method of carbon sequestration on a global scale. This method is the result of years of reading and doing work on biochar applications in farming. Crop residues are converted into fuel for "smoke-less" biochar stoves/ovens that can replace traditional cooking that emits a lot of smoke. Farming communities therefore avoid open burning of crop residues such as straw of wheat, corn and other cereals and instead make valuable biochar for their farms. When soils in fields have achieved enough biochar content that yields are at the maximum, farmers can turn into making biochar for other farmers and make a profit. Processing produce into value-added products via cooking can enhance incomes of farmer households or an entire community. For example in the event of bumper harvest of tomatoes where prices fall negatively, farmers can opt to tomato processing to prevent flooding the market and loosing profit.
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