"Agromin is always exploring non-traditional technologies that create the highest and best use of organic materials," says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO. "The biochar concept is actually based on ancient agricultural wisdom, but its potential importance for our modern civilization is just now dawning on the scientific community. Recent advances in technology enable us to make biochar in an economical and environmentally responsible manner."
The biochar concept is based on the “Terra Preta” or dark soils of Amazonia. Only recently rediscovered, these manmade soils are rich in charcoal and other organic matter, and are persistently fertile in the face of constant cultivation. Traditional methods of making charcoal are notoriously smoky, but Agromin will be using specially engineered kilns that process the biomass in stages, thereby eliminating the smoke while boosting overall efficiency. The biochar will eventually be combined with compost and other ingredients to be used in Agromin soil products available to growers and consumers.
"Currently, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases escape from soil into the atmosphere. It's a natural process," says Camarillo. "Biochar stores carbon in the soil long term, effectively 'sequestering' carbon. Biochar also suppresses emissions of other GHGs like nitrous oxide and methane from agricultural fields. As a leader in clean energy and carbon negative products, Agromin can use biochar technology to help further reduce our environmental footprint as we process green materials into sustainable soil amendments. Biochar will not only help farmers improve crop yields while reducing agrochemical inputs, but will minimize the release of greenhouse gases from their fields. This is particularly important as businesses must respond to California legislative initiatives demanding the implementation of carbon offset practices."
Agromin will be working with growers to test the results of biochar/compost blends and other biochar based products. "If all goes well, we will install biochar production systems at two of our facilities this year," says Camarillo.
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Agromin is an Oxnard, Calif.-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 Southern California communities.