Biochar FAQ

The recommended resource for biochar information is the International Biochar Initiative website.


  • What is Biochar? Biochar is a solid material obtained from the carbonisation of biomass. Biochar may be added to soils with the intention to improve soil functions and to reduce emissions from biomass that would otherwise naturally degrade to greenhouse gases. Biochar also has appreciable carbon sequestration value. These properties are measurable and verifiable in a characterisation scheme, or in a carbon emission offset protocol. (from the IBI Website - terms of use)

  • Who can use Biochar? Biochar is used by farmers of all kinds - from home gardeners to vineyard managers, in commercial and organic settings.

  • What are the benefits of Biochar? Biochar provides a unique opportunity to improve soil fertility for the long term using locally available materials. Used alone, or in combinations, compost, manure and/or agrochemicals are added at certain rates every year to soils, in order to realize benefits. Application rates of these can be reduced when nutrients are combined with biochar. Biochar remains in the soil, and single applications can provide benefits over many years. Farmers can also receive an energy yield when converting organic residues into biochar by capturing energy given off in the biochar production process. In both industrialized and developing countries, soil loss and degradation is occurring at unprecedented rates, with profound consequences for soil ecosystem properties. (from the IBI Website - terms of use)

  • What is the future of biochar? We're working toward appropiate scale production and wide scale use. We'll discuss the State of the Industry at the 2012 US Biochar Conference. See the conference videos.


  • What is the U.S. Biochar Initiative? The U.S. Biochar Initiative is a growing organization launched under the sponsorship of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions.  Its purpose is to promote the sustainable production and use of biochar in the United States.  USBI serves as a hub for regional chapters, producers, entrepreneurs, foresters, farmers, gardeners and biochar enthusiasts across the nation.  USBI seeks to address U.S.-specific problems, needs and opportunities while working closely with the International Biochar Inititaive. More information on USBI can be found at:

  • Who leads the USBI? Currently, Gloria Flora is the Director of USBI.  She’s supported and assisted by a great Advisory Board which includes Jason Arambaru, Albert Bates, Tom Miles, Ron Larson, Jonah Levine and Kelpie Wilson – all individual luminaries in the biochar arena.  USBI is inclusive and open to anyone wishing to become involved in the education, outreach, research and networking activities of USBI.  We can all be leaders!

  • What does the USBI do? Right now, USBI is focusing on promoting awareness of biochar and educating people from all walks of life in the U.S. on biochar’s benefits, from remediation to soil enhancement to carbon solutions and more.  USBI is committed to ensuring that biochar production and use in the U.S. meets the highest standards of sustainability measured in life cycle assessments.  A solution that creates new problems while solving existing ones isn’t a solution!  USBI provides information through its website,, a newsletter and presentations.  USBI supports regional chapters and launches and helps sponsor annual national conferences.   Watch for a sister trade association, promoting biochar producers and markets, to appear in the near future.

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