Premium Landscape Biochar is a new soil amendment offered by Bartlett Tree Experts that improves soil quality for healthier trees while also sequestering carbon that would otherwise contribute to elevated levels of greenhouse gases. Premium Landscape Biochar is a long-lasting additive that is ideal for trees and shrubs on both urban and suburban properties. This product complements Bartlett’s existing sustainable tree care offerings including its certified organic Boost Natural Fertilizer.
Biochar is a relatively new term for charcoal used as a soil additive. However, the idea of incorporating charred matter into soil is centuries old. In fact, this practice resulted in what is now known as terra preta, a dark, fertile soil with high charcoal content that is found in South America’s Amazon Basin. Created thousands of years ago, terra preta soils have shown above-average nutrient levels and better retention of those nutrients yielding high crop productivity.
Today, biochar is produced through a controlled process called pyrolysis during which waste organic debris like wood chips, manure or leaves is heated in the presence of little or no oxygen. The process produces a carbon-rich material that can be tilled into the soil in a tree or shrub’s root zone or introduced by liquid injection.
Though modern biochar has been studied for many years in agriculture, its applications in tree care have been largely untested until now. Scientists from The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, including Kelby Fite, Ph.D., have undertaken no less than eight research projects to determine the benefits and real-world applications of this product on residential and commercial properties.
“Since 2008 we’ve been testing the use of biochar at a variety of greenhouse and field sites with challenging soil conditions,” said Dr. Fite. “Our tests show a strong correlation between the addition of biochar to soil and subsequent improvements in that soil’s characteristics, which ultimately lead to healthier plants. After seeing the early results and trends, we’re excited to help introduce Premium Landscape Biochar to Bartlett’s clients.”
Bartlett’s research indicates improvements in soil fertility and water retention, but another unexpected benefit has also started to emerge. Experimental trees in soil with biochar are demonstrating improved resistance to certain insects and disease. Further evaluation is currently underway to help determine the relationship between biochar and pest resistance.
“Plants flourish with the application of biochar and I’ve seen that firsthand. I am eager to continue learning about how it may benefit the environment in the years to come,” commented Dr. Fite.