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How biochar can stop nutrients leaching from your soil

9 January 2013: Comment from Simon Manley, CEO of Carbon Gold, following claims by Professor Mike Gooding, head of agricultural policy and development at Reading University, that high rainfall could cause loss of nutrients in soil leading to less healthier vegetables:

“There is a natural alternative to adding synthetic fertiliser and nutrients in response to nutrient leaching caused by high rainfall – biochar not only stops nutrients leaching out from the soil in the first place, it also enhances nutrient availability to plants and helps with drainage.

“Biochar is a form of charcoal that can be used as a soil amendment. It is made from woody biomass that has been charred at a low temperature without oxygen, a process called pyrolysis.

“Research shows that fewer nutrients are lost from the upper levels of biochar-enriched soils due to it’s mild cation exchange capacity which enables it to stop minerals from leaching out but still keeps them available to mycorrhizal fungi and therefore to the plants.

“Biochar provides a perfect habitat for mycorrhizal fungi to grow and flourish. These fungi colonise the pores of biochar particles, which protects them from predators – tiny nematodes, mites and protozoa. This leaves the fungi able to feed nutrients to ‘their’ plant and protect it from disease.

“We ran trials with our range of biochar products last year with professional horticulturalists across the UK and despite the unprecedented rain fall in 2012 77% reported benefits in nutrient availability.”


[1] Bad weather ‘could cause less tasty and healthy fruit and veg’ (Daily Telegraph, 9 January 2013).

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