Frequently asked questions about biochar

What is biochar?

Biochar is charcoal that is produced by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar has many uses.


What is the difference between BBQ charcoal and biochar?

It all depends on how it’s produced.

Most BBQ charcoals are made from materials that have not been completely pyrolysed, leaving tars and creosotes to lend their smoky flavour to BBQ meals. These volatiles may harm plants and animals if applied to soils.

Good quality biochar is free of volatiles and has no taste or smell. It is also brittle, so you can crush it between your fingers without any oily residue.

Finally, biochar can be made from any biomass, but BBQ charcoal is usually made from woody materials.

What can I use biochar for? How do I use biochar?

Biochar has a wide range of applications. Most commonly, farmers, horticulturists, and home gardeners use biochar as a soil amendment.

Biochar can contribute to animal care, carbon sequestration, water (and sewage) filtration and treatment, and more.

Please see follow this link for more detailed information.

Is biochar a fertiliser?

The fertiliser value of a biochar itself depends on the biomass it was produced from. Talk to suppliers of NZ made biochar about the fertiliser value of their biochars.

Biochar has also been shown to improve plant-available nutrients in the soil through holding soluble fertilisers and water near plant roots for longer, and increasing the soil’s microbial nutrient cycling capacity

Where can I get some biochar?

See the Suppliers page

How can I make biochar?

There are many ways to make biochar using all sorts of equipment – from a biscuit tin scale to an industrial scale. All of them involve heat.Check out some small scale plans here and this video demonstration for a back yard demonstration.

Contact BNNZ to arrange a demonstration for your community. There may be a fee to cover costs.

Contact BNNZ about technologies for larger scale applications.

Can someone show me how to make biochar?

Contact BNNZ to arrange a demonstration. There may be a fee to cover costs.

I have a lot of biomass, can someone make biochar for me? What other opportunities are available?

Please consider becoming a member to connect with people who can help. You can also use our contact form to be put in touch with one of the biochar producers in your area.

© 2021 Biochar Network NZ

BNNZ acknowledges the generous support of Soil Conditioner Products Ltd, NZ Biochar Ltd, Black Moa Biochar, and Slow Farm Ltd