Biochar: Then and Now
Alexa Foster
R M Grauer Elementary
Floor Location : J 030 R

My project is about biochar. Biochar is charcoal, which is made from heating wood to very high temperatures without burning it. My grandmother’s cousin produces biochar and I learned from him that biochar is sometimes used in farming, even as long ago as the Incas. I decided to test if biochar helps some plants grow better. I tested three different types of seeds, corn, radish and bean, and compared peat moss alone as a soil, compared to peat moss with biochar.

To test this I put 10 L peat into one bin, then I put four and a half of the same 2L buckets full of peat and ½ a bucket of biochar into a second bin. Then I added water and fertilizer to each. I put the peat and the biochar plus peat into separate growing trays and planted the seeds. I put plastic wrap over everything and then I put the growing trays on heating pads under special germination lights.

A few days after planting the seeds I saw that some seeds had germinated. I let them grow for 25 d, then I counted and measured the plants. I did this experiment three times. There were few differences between biochar and peat for corn and radish but with bean the biochar seemed to help the plants germinate better and grow faster. These findings could help gardeners or farmers get more out of their crops.