Soil enhancer vs. Fertilizer

Biochar is not a fertilizer, biochar is a soil enhancer! What is the difference? Fertilizers add nutrients to the soil… For some time there are more nutrients in the soil, but eventually they are taken up by the plants. After some time the nutrient concentration will go down and you have to fertilize again. This means that fertilizers improve the soil temporarily.  Soil enhancers add structure to the soil… When the soil structure changes, the soil properties also change. Examples of how structure affects soil properties are:

  • More airspaces - Reduces chance of waterlogging
  • More surface area - Higher water holding capacity
  • More negative charge - Higher pH, higher nutrient holding capacity

These structural changes will remain over time. This means that soil enhancers lead to a permanent improvement of the soil. None of them is better, fertilizers and soil enhancers have completely different roles. Fertilizers and soil enhancers complement each other:

Biochar is a fixed carbon structure that improves the soil structure over hundreds of years. It is a soil enhancer and contains no nutrients by itself. One structural change when using biochar is that there is a larger surface area and more negative charge. The soil has now the potential to store more nutrients at the time. 
To fulfill the nutrient storage potential, nutrients have to be added. This is where fertilizer is needed! What you know as charging is combining a soil enhancer (biochar) with a fertilizer (manure) to get the highest benefit.

Biochar: Increases potential to store nutrients
Manure: Fulfills the potential by adding nutrients

Biochar does not replace fertilizer, but its structure can hold nutrients and makes fertilizing much more efficient. In the end this lowers your fertilizer demand! 
The line between soil enhancer isn't always this clear. Compost adds nutrients AND structure to the soil. It is a fertilizer and soil enhancer.
Biochar is a virtual sponge that retains water and nutrients at the root level.

Whether you irrigate a lawn, a garden, or a 50,000 acre farm, historically the result has been the same — the act of watering actually minimizes and washes away vital nutrients from the soil while the remaining moisture quickly evaporates. Even when we water and feed constantly, our crops and plants rarely approach their full potential.

So why not develop a sort of organic "sponge" to keep nutrients from washing away and to hold water just beneath the soil's surface where the root system can drink and feed to maximum efficiency?
Why not indeed?

Biochar, a Biological Charcoal soil supplement, sets up a naturally organic support system that retains both water and nutrients concentrated at the plant's root level.

Even the richest soil on our planet has only so much ability to hold onto water and nutrients on its own. But the biochar process requires far less fertilizing and significantly reduced (up to 50% less) watering.

This is no idle boast. Organic charcoal has long been recognized as holding a crucial place in the support of plant biology. But now the bridge from ancient discovery to modern implementation has taken the quite simple step forward into our very best management of vital resources. 

Plants can now feed and drink all they need. No more over-fertilizing and over watering. Natural resources are conserved and our agriculture flourishes with heretofore unheard of yields. A staggeringly simple concept and yet impressively effective in every agricultural circumstance.