Imagine pioneering across the United States in covered wagons hundreds of years ago. Rolling hills, vast landscapes, towering grasses and prairies that stretched beyond the horizon could be seen in all directions. Yet today, just 3% of North America’s tallgrass prairies remain, rolling hills have developed into gridded highways, and stretching landscapes are now building-filled cities. Fortunately, the growing population in the U.S. has experienced improved living conditions, more efficient transportation, and overall greater conveniences due to this urbanization over the last few centuries. Unfortunately, a key consequence of this transformation has largely been overlooked: a significant loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere.
The loss of soil carbon is an important occurrence that is gaining greater scientific research and understanding. Why? Because the rapid loss of soil carbon is a major contributing factor to increased greenhouse gasses and negative climate implications. By slowing, and ultimately reversing soil carbon loss, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be significantly reduced. Focusing on land management practices and agricultural methods that enhance the capacity of soils to function as a carbon sink stands as a primary means to reversing the loss of soil carbon.
Biocarbon is the biological storage of carbon and refers to natures ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in trees, plants, and soils. Bringing carbon back into soils and plants, also referred to as “carbon sequestration”, could not only mitigate negative climate implications but also improve the overall fertility of croplands.
Think back to your middle-school or high-school science class. Try to ignore the distracting chatter and giggles from your classmates and remember what your teacher was explaining about photosynthesis. He or she might have said something like “through photosynthesis, plants utilize carbon from the atmosphere to grow and create new plant material, while dead plant material is incorporated into the soils.” This dead plant material, as your science teacher might have explained, is carbon-based and will remain in the soil for decades or even centuries where it is most beneficial. If you’re like me, you did not realize it at the time in primary school, but the natural cycle of nature stores carbon and limits the rise in atmospheric carbon, or greenhouse gases.
Biocarbon solutions to climate change and land productivity enlist this very principle taught by nature. Biocarbon promoting tactics for greater sustainability and crop productivity include protecting existing carbon storages like forests and wetlands, creating new carbon storages through afforestation, and replenishing historic carbon sinks through soil health management practices and the utilization of Engineered Biocarbon™ technology.
Engineered Biocarbon™ technology is a fixed carbon, biochar-based, material that is produced from raw biomass that works to improve soil health and add carbon to soils. Importantly, soil carbon comes in different forms, and each plays an important role in the overall capacity of soils to store carbon and produce quality plants and crops.
The different forms of soil carbon:
These types of soil carbons complement each other and enhance the overall health and carbon sequestration capacity of the soil when held in a healthy balance.
Engineered Biocarbon™ technology is recalcitrant, or fixed, and provides key agricultural and horticultural benefits. The material is highly porous, has an expansive surface area, is structured, and chemically stable. These attributes provide a variety of soil health benefits including; water and nutrient retention, anchoring of micro plant roots, a habitat for soil microbes, pathway creation in the soil for water and oxygen, aeration in clay soils and structure in sandy soils. All the while, when Engineered Biocarbon™ technology is applied to the soil carbon is sequestered in the ground where it is the most beneficial.
Engineered Biocarbon™ technology is a specifically engineered material created through a process of pyrolysis and post-pyrolysis treatment to provide a consistent and predictable soil health tool and carbon sequestration technology. First, raw biochar is produced through pyrolysis, which is the burning of raw biomass in the absence of oxygen. Raw biochar often has inconsistent characteristics due to the raw material utilized and manufacturing conditions. So, to produce a predictable and consistent fixed carbon material, we post-treat the raw biochar through our Demetra process. The Demetra treatment process detoxifies the biochar while eliminating variability and ensuring a top-performing amendment that consistently works. In Demetra, raw biochar is cleaned and engineered to a strict specification. We adjust the pH to ensure consistent levels, flip the material from hydrophobic (meaning water repelling) to hydrophilic, remove hydrocarbon residues and other toxins, and size it for easy application.
Land stewards, farmers, growers, and green professionals in agriculture and horticulture are key players in the effort to promote biocarbon and carbon sequestration in soils. In agriculture, employing practices to improve soil health like no-till, cover crops, and applying carbon amendments like Cool Terra® improves the overall ability of soil to store carbon. And in horticulture and green industries, sustainable management practices like the substitution of Cool Terra® for peat growing medium also mitigates negative climate impacts.
Innovative farmers and green industry professionals are utilizing Cool Terra® featuring Engineered Biocarbon™ technology to optimize their soil health and sequester carbon. Cool Terra® provides sustainability and productivity by improving key soil performance characteristics and mimicking the naturally occurring biocarbon (the storage of carbon) process. A growing global population and increased development worldwide requires many resources from mother-nature, isn’t it time that we give something back to mother-nature? Consider utilizing Engineered Biocarbon™ technology in your soils today to sequester carbon and support soil health.