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Biochar - where to buy?

  • 19-12-2022 3:24pm
    Registered Users Posts: 53 ✭✭

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know where one can get there hands on Biochar in Ireland? A search of Boards and a wider Google search has only resulted in dated content, with the main result being - but you are only offered 5KG bags there (I am looking for substantially more than that) and I'm getting no response from the email address listed as the only contact.

    Given the myriad of benefits Biochar provides I'm surprised at how underground and/or stagnant the sector appears.

    I may need to resort to making it myself! Gap in the market and all that!

    Any help finding a supplier would be greatly appreciated.



  • Registered Users Posts: 793 ✭✭✭bored_newbie

  • Registered Users Posts: 53 ✭✭The_Outsider

    Thanks bored_newbie. I did come across that but my interpretation of it was that it appears to be the Rolls Royce of this type of product. Given the amounts I am looking for it would cost a small fortune to go with this one. The inoculated stuff is a good bit more expensive than the bog standard biochar.

    If I had a blank cheque I'd go with it in a heartbeat as it sounds fantastic, but not with my current budget. I might investigate a small test plot with it though, that being said.

    I'm looking to ultimately move from the traditional trailers of manure being incorporated into beds as a source of fertility to 1 main initial incorporation of biochar + subsequent liquid feeds. Again I'm really surprised how little chatter there is about using Biochar, but as it's such a leap I will start small and if the results speak for themselves, expand over time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,415 ✭✭✭macraignil

    Tried to do a bit of reading up on the evidence for biochar use and I'm not convinced it is as fantastic a tool for improving soil fertility that some supporters of it like to make out. A lot of the studies that I found that gave positive results were not fair comparisons in my view with the control often being a situation of growing with no alternative to the biochar being applied and so poor results in the control should have been expected. There are even studies that have found some applications of biochar have had negative impacts on plant growth. A lot of the promotional material I see online about its use seems more about the media personality trying to make themselves noteworthy than actually being a proper study of whether it actually works. If you have soil with very poor water retention or very poor drainage due to the soil structure then it may have a role but for most soils I get the feeling that standard manure or compost would be just as good or better at boosting plant productivity.

    Happy gardening!

  • Registered Users Posts: 53 ✭✭The_Outsider

    Yeah I did see some content on people explaining how Biochar isn't all it's cracked up to be - like most everything nowadays there'll be polarized camps putting forward their view on it and then it's up to you to read between the lines and decide if its worth a punt.

    From my own point of view, I have been manuring my beds and polytunnel annually for 12+ years and find the whole process pretty back-breaking, plus my source of manure locally will come to an end soon. We experimented with a no-dig section of bed this year, placing the manure on the surface and covering with cardboard and to be honest the results were pretty impressive - I kept a cap of grass clippings on the manure during the season which prevented it from drying out, and the plants did well and we had a great crop of spuds and pumpkins from that section.

    This method at least avoided the laborious incorporating of the manure in to the soil.

    If using Biochar meant that nutrients would be available to plants for longer and with potentially better moisture retention, and as a result reduced the need for the annual manuring, then I see no harm in at least trying it out. Even pushing a manuring out to every 2nd year would be progress!

    My ideal scenario would be to acquire 'raw' Biochar and work on activating/inoculating it myself. The processed versions which are available certainly take the leg work out, but you obviously have to pay a bit more.

    Either way, I see a few test plots/tunnel sections during the next growing season to see what the results are. That's the only true measuring stick.

    We will be expanding the no-dig regardless.

    @Nell B thanks for that link. Looks like good stuff, and a comparatively decent price too (€1 /kg if my sums are correct). No specifics on the % of actual Biochar in it mentioned though.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,415 ✭✭✭macraignil

    It's the no dig use of manure that I have found works well here as well and since the manure is fairly convenient I see no reason to change away from it. If its laid down in a thick enough layer then the cardboard isn't even needed. Let the earthworms do the work of digging it in. Maybe you could do some research in your area for an alternative source of manure or compost if your current one is stopping. No harm experimenting anyway but in some experiments it was the raw biochar I think was the material added that gave negative results as I think it can actually soak up nutrient from the soil and make them less accessible to plants in some circumstances. If you do properly balanced tests on the product you find then I would be very interested to see the results that you get. I posted some videos of my own no-dig vegetable plot test here.

    Happy gardening!

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 76,702 Mod ✭✭✭✭New Home

    One of the benefits of biochar is that when it's injected in ash, it stops them from getting die-back. I'll see if I can get hold of the link where I saw it mentioned.