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Dave_M

Biochar Thread

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Who is aware of the amazing aspects of using biochar? I have recently adopted the concept, but am still in the make or buy decision for driving plant growth to the max.

Please explain what you may know, or have experienced using biochar.

Thanks!

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Here's a question that just came in from one of our Members...

Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and BioChar are mentioned together in soil improvement discussions – How are they connected?

Here's an answer...

Negative & Positive Attractions

Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is the soil’s ability to attract, retain and exchange positively-charged cations (cat-i-on).  Like a magnet’s attraction to iron, the negatively-charged soil particles will attract and hold the positively charged cations (nutrients).  The strength of the attraction is described as High or Low CEC and will determine how well nutrients will linger in the soil.  Plants absorb the essential nutrients in their unattached, cationic form, such as Magnesium (Mg2+) and Potassium (K+).  Adding Biochar to the soil will help increase its CEC, making those essential nutrients available to soil microbes and plants.

Soils holding Hands with Nutrients

Like holding hands, either tightly (high CEC) or loosely (low CEC), soils will hold cations the same way.  Cations in low CEC soil are more mobile in the “soil solution” and will have increased nutrient loss (leaching).  Sandy soils tend to have low CEC and need to have nutrients and fertilizers added more often to the soil to maintain healthy plants.

Clayey soils and soils with high organic matter (OM) content tend to have a higher CEC so cations are “held tightly.”  The higher CEC soils do a good job of holding onto nutrients and fertilizers (less leaching) but too much of a “good” thing can restrict the plant’s ability to accumulate the soil’s nutrients.  When the soil has a healthy microbial population, then the nutrients will be processed and made available to plants naturally.  Soil microorganisms are a driving force in the cycling of nutrients and an indication of healthy soil.

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