The biochar / charcoal produced by human beings or by natural processes and utilized has immense values.During interactions with communities, experiments, field trials, discovering traditional practices in parts of India and in capacity development programs on Biochar, the scope of Biochar has expanded. BIOCHAR term is being used mainly with focus on soil / Agriculture and as well as a carbon sequestration. Biochar has a cultural value in India, like Agriculture, Vermiculture, etc, so it is convenient to explain Biochar as a new product, where as it had been "Biocharculture". The Terrapreta was originally a culture in the Amazon, without being Terrapretaculture as part of Agriculture the good practice would not have been spread covering such large areas. Biochar when it was produced it is called Charcoal (the source and temperature at which it is produced is important), once one has intention to apply as a component for amendment of soils it is Biochar. But whether Biochar reaches directly to the soil from source with direct intention / ultimately or indirectly reaches the soil after use as a secondary product it is Biochar. In parts of India as observed, the Biochar is being used knowingly / unknowingly over centuries. The Biochar use as traditional / cultural practice is there since centuries for various uses including Agriculture. Probably the soils in India remained mostly fertile due to other practices, so there was not much need to apply charcoal in large proportions.
Whether the soils are fertile or infertile the Biochar presence in the soils always did only good. This aspect as experienced by farmers made them use it if available. The pottery shards from their use of pottery items also added value, in Indian fields (of more than 100 years old) pieces of pottery shards are common to find which also are part of daily life and culture. Most often the Biochar plus other components like pottery shards, bones even after many uses reaches the field / soil, especially in rural areas. The value of Biochar for application is higher when it reaches the field after its use. The multiple and ultimate use of Biochar as "BIOCHARCULTURE" makes it sustainable, adaptable by communities. Biochar is not an industrial product?! Although many terms have emerged recently to explain the Biochar commercial products by different names. Biochar was not a commercial product in the past and always had more than one value before reaching the fields for improving the soil environment and as well ultimately carbon sequestration too.
Biochar use in the old world is mostly a cultural or traditional practice. Probably Japanese are still using Bamboo charcoal in many ways. Biochar is not some thing suddenly we have innovated, we need to discover its use and also innovate new uses. All farmers can adopt and one need not be in a hurry to apply large quantities in a go to have bumper yield or crop, the annual incremental application would be more sustainable for the farmer as well for the
At GEO we are using Biochar for different applications
details of various applications see BIOCHAR INDIA http://biocharindia.com