A trial of a new tree planting additive is underway in the Lincolnshire Wolds. A small area of tree planting has been carried at South Thoresby Warren Local Nature Reserve. The trees have been planted to study the effectiveness of biochar as an 'amendment' to the soil when planting new trees. An area known for its poor & free draining soil was selected for the planting and equal numbers of Hornbeam, Oak and Rowan have been planted, 50% have been treated with Biochar.
It is hoped that the inclusion of the biochar will help the young trees establish more quickly, with the biochar soaking up and storing water and water-born nutrients for the times the tree need them most i.e. during drought. The trees will be monitored over the coming years and should the trial prove successful we will consider using biochar more widely in our tree planting schemes.
So what is Biochar?
Biochar is a charcoal-like substance created by pyrolysis (high-temperature, low-oxygen burning) of green waste, biochar is a desirable material due to its ability to attract and retain water. This is made possible by its very porous structure and very high surface area. Pre-Columbian Amazonian's are believed to have used biochar to enhance soil productivity, researchers discovered dark, charcoal-rich soil (known as Terra preta, or black earth) that supported productive farms in areas that previously had poor and in some places, toxic soil, the biochar seems to have been produced by smouldering agricultural waste in pits or trenches.