Biocarbon has a remarkable ability to act as an agricultural catalyst. In this application, often called “terra preta,” the biocarbon is neither a nutrient nor a fertilizer yet it enhances plant growth by 30% to 300%. Even more remarkable, the carbon is not consumed, and thus has to be applied only once. The growth promotion takes place from the absorbent carbon acting as a slow-release agent for nutrients and fertilizers and/or host for soil microbes. The end result is more food production, while the biocarbon placed in the ground is sequestered and is now carbon negative.
A complimentary benefit to the agricultural industry is that crop waste can be utilized as the source of biomass; thus, the industry could be self-sufficient in biocarbon supply to promote plant growth while promoting climate change. This area has caught the attention of the global media (e.g., BBC, CNN), but full-scale field trials are required to quantify the full benefits of terra preta on different soil conditions. A barrier to such studies has been the absence of commercial quantities of biocarbon to perform such trials.
This growth promoter can be utilized to reduce fertilizer consumption, resulting in greater crop yields and lower fertilizer applications. Research is underway to better quantify these benefits. When placed in the ground, the biocarbon is now carbon negative, since the carbon has been sequestered. Overall, terra preta reduces global warming, both by carbon sequestration and lower fossil fuel consumption from lower fertilizer demand. If future trials confirm the earlier research, the market potential is again astronomic.
Our business plans are to provide such material to promote the agricultural applications of biocarbon. We have been active in supplying biocarbon for government-sponsored field testing in Australia. Alterna Biocarbon also is a research partner with the University of Northern British Columbia on terra preta studies.