We can't say what charcoal will do but we can say why we're asking the question. Because charcoal influences so many different areas of soil - moisture, nutrients, crop production, and microbial activity - and changes in each regional micro climate -there are unlimited research possibilities.
That's Tom talking to Amanda Zee at Sweet Earth Farm. Tom, his grad student Si, and his research assistant Amanda are all working with Forage to research the charcoal made from the Moxum burns this spring applied to farms in San Juan County.
Over the next three years the University of Washington team will work with Forage, Carson at Rainshadow, Steve and Linnea at Nootka Rose, and 11 other farms in the County to examine the role of biochar in nutrient cycling and uptake by dry beans. This research will explore the potential connection of increased nutrient availability in soil to also increase nutrient density in agronomic crops such as dry beans. If charcoal is building nutrients in soil, that could translate to increasing nutrient density in the food. Could biochar become a new "organic," a way to differentiate quality and enhance price? Don't we all want food with more in it?
And we've already started. Here is the baseline data from the farms on moisture content and bulk density before charcoal was applied. We'll be publishing more results as soil tests come in throughout the summer of 2015.