Scientists from Bartlett Tree Experts and The Morton Arboretum are researching the effects of biochar on the health of urban trees. The project has received assistance from the Chicago Bureau of Forestry and Department of Environment, and funding support from The TREE Fund.
Biochar is created by the heating of plant waste at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, and differs from charcoal in that its primary use is not for fuel, but “for biosequestration or atmospheric carbon capture and storage.” 1
Biochar is a stable solid rich in carbon content, and thus, can be used to lock carbon in the soil, and has been used for centuries to restore infertile soils. It also has tremendous potential for urban tree care. Urban soils often lack carbon, available nutrients and important microorganisms. Biochar is rich in carbon, which when added to the soil, can increase the number of microorganisms, increase nutrients and rebuild soil structure. It’s been called a “coral reef” for soil.