Q: Can biochar be produced at home?
A: Producing biochar at home is very difficult as being able to control the entire process, accounting for all of the variables described above, is a technical challenge. Most homemade biochar is probably more like charcoal.
Q: Can charcoal be used instead of or as a substitute to biochar?
A: No. Charcoal is NOT the same as biochar; it is not produced under the same controlled conditions, thus its properties are unknown and unpredictable.
Modern barbeque charcoal or briquettes also often contain additives or contaminants (tars, resins and other chemicals) that are not suitable for addition to the soil.
Charcoals also tend to be more prone to decomposition than biochars, thus are much less effective at sequestering carbon.
Q: Is biochar a source of nutrients and does it need to be reapplied?
A: Biochar has some nutritional value but this depends on all the variables listed above. Check manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates for particular situations and plants or crops.
Q: Does biochar application have effect on the soil’s pH?
A: As outlined biochar properties are influenced by a number of factors including the source of organic matter and production process. Some could potentially lower soil pH, but most are likely to increase pH of the soil. Check manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates for particular situations and plants or crops.