Biochar has been used to help soil for over 2500 years, most notably in the Terra Preta soils in the Amazon basin. Their technique of mixing biochar with organic matter and broken pottery resulted in a uniquely fertile soil, characterized by higher phosphorus content, higher cation exchange capacity, pH and base saturation than the surrounding soils.
Research has shown that biochar improves soils and vastly increasing crop yield and plant growth whilst reducing the need for fertilisers. Adding biochar to soil results in long term improvements to the soil structure – allowing the soil to hold up to 5 times more nutrients and water than it can naturally – resulting in stronger, healthier, and more bountiful plants. The biochar’s porosity also makes the soil more resilient – helping to mitigate climate change effects, particularly in areas prone to drought or flooding – and provides spots within the soil which can house and encourage beneficial soil organisms, stopping them from being washed away during periods of heavy rainfall.