Biochar is becoming all the rage within sophisticated farming techniques. The ashy substance brings tremendous benefits to all types of crops. Its properties are almost miraculous for recovering over-farmed soils.

This growing interest in biochar coincides with the hemp market’s surge. Both industries share a similar story: regarded once as very promising, biochar and hemp were forgotten and then rediscovered many years later. Now, they could aid each other in a significant way.

What is biochar?

As its name may suggest, biochar is a type of charcoal made out of biological material. It’s primarily used for soil amendment and made by putting organic material—mostly wood and other substances such as straw, corn stalks, and hemp stalks—through great heat. This process creates flames that end up burning the material making an ash-like matter that’s very absorbent, permeable, and rich in carbon.

The resulting biomass has impressive effects on the soil, like retaining water-soluble nutrients and trapping harmful metals and nitrogen. When the biochar is removed from the ground, it also eliminates a lot of pollutants.

This technique goes way back—a thousand years back. Since the 60s, scientists have discovered the uses of biochar in the Amazon that date to the pre-Columbian era. This is why the Amazonian black soil is very desirable by farmers.

How does hemp play into biochar?

Since biochar is made out of organic material, many producers have turned their heads at hemp—specifically its residue. Today, hemp is often farmed to produce things like CBD oil, foods, and fiber. These products don’t need the stalk part of the plant, which is regarded as waste.

However, this isn’t “waste” per se. Stalks are still organic material that could be used for creating materials such as biochar. The market for it is relatively untapped, so the possibilities of growing in it are huge.

Companies like High Plains Biochar in Laramie, Wyoming, are already taking advantage of this. As its owner, Rowdy Yeatts, said to The Hemp Mag, “We’re now working on trying to get a load of hemp waste product shipped here to perform a test run and see what properties it will have as biochar.”