By Nnamdi Odumody
Biochar Integrated Circular Food System is an innovative solution for increasing the productivity and long term sustainability of food supply in the world. Agric waste such as crop residues, fallen twigs, date palm fronds, animal manure and animal bones can be processed to biochar, a carbon rich material which has the capacity to retain water and nutrients thereby increasing productivity. Biochar’s unique properties allow it to be applied in crop waste management, clean renewable energy for farmers, drinking water treatment and purification, animal feeding and health, aquaponics and fish water treatment, composting of crop residues and manure, market waste, & fish processing wastes.
Biochar has the capacity to absorb water up to 5 times its weight, and absorbs nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which makes it valuable in arid regions such as Northern Nigeria, Sahel, North Africa and the Middle East. It is used in hydroponics in retaining moisture and nutrients and improves water quality when utilized in aquaponics by absorbing impurities. Recent research has shown that biochar increases crop yields by 25 percent on the average in acidic, low fertile and low fertilizer inputs in the tropics.
Biochar is an affordable substitute for limestone that can be produced onsite by farmers. It also helps in preventing pollution and spread of diseases in livestock farms. Manure biochar can be used to create organic fertilizer for vegetable crops, maize, millet, date palms, mangoes, cocoa and coffee. Biochar from plants can be deployed to maintain the healthy digestive system of poultry, goats and cattle. Its effects improve growth rates, milk production and reduction of toxins in milk and odors. The application of biochar derived from maize stalk in manure composting reduces ammonia and methane emissions, reducing global warming. Biochar prevents diseases caused by ammonia in poultry farms and footpad diseases on the floors.
With numerous applications across the agri-industry value chain, Biochar will help in increasing efficiency and promoting a green smart environment.