This is the last in our weekly blogs designed to celebrate the launch of our Biochar Soil Booster at the start of September. We’ll still keep you up-to-date on everything biochar, but on a monthly basis from now on (look out for our next update on 20 November). Today we’re looking at biochar’s role in the sustainable – and even regenerative – management of woodlands and forests.
When our founder Phil Greenwood first set up Sacred Earth in 2011, he took on the management of nearly 40-acres of woodland. From the off, he has done this using the age-old methods of coppicing and pollarding – basically pruning trees to encourage regrowth. Keen to find something useful to do with the resulting wood waste, he decided to invest in a special kiln and start making the eco-friendly charcoal known as biochar.
Nestled among the trees, our kiln – affectionately known as Auntie Betty after a kind-hearted aunt of Phil’s – now turns all our wood and plant waste into something we can use to boost the health of our land and everything that grows out of it.
Biochar is scientifically proven to boost soil fertility, thereby also improving the health and strength of plants and trees. It works by regenerating the soil’s microbial ecosystem. The beneficial fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms that are essential to soil health flourish in the tiny spaces that cover its porous surface.
At Sacred Earth we use biochar to make our potent soil booster. After it’s cooled, we crumble it by hand and then add other earth-enhancing ingredients – like seaweed, comfrey tea and biodynamic compost preparation. Some of it we dig back into our land. The rest we package up and sell via our shop. So we use the naturally arising waste from caring for our trees to make something that will improve our site’s overall health. In this way, biochar is the perfect way of closing the sustainable woodland management loop.
While we are advocates of biochar, we are keen to underline that we’re firmly against its industrial production. It is environmentally destructive to grow trees specifically to cut them down and burn them in a kiln. Biochar should only ever be made from the waste leftover after eco-friendly tree care, as part of a sustainable system. Our vision is of a world in which there is a biochar kiln on every woodland – or landowners link up with local, small-scale biochar manufacturers to create something environmentally regenerative with their wood waste.
With this in mind, Phil has plans to set up a roving woodland management service for Sussex and Kent. He is looking to invest in a portable biochar kiln and then helping local woodland owners by sustainably managing their sites for them and making biochar from their plant and wood waste. If anyone knows of a potentially interested woodland owner – or where we could obtain funding to help pay for the portable kiln, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org