By Dr. Michael Ainatzoglou * [GR]
*MD, DDS, Phd, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Also : Indepentant, Olive and Environmental researcher, olive cultivator ( www.damaskinoelies.com e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org), member of the Scientific Society of Olive Encyclopaedists (4E)
Human activities of the last two centuries, have failed to retain sustainable Carbon(C) balance between a. soil and subsoil and b. the atmosphere and the oceans. This is, probably, the main reason for major planet disorders, as is global warming , climate change, reduced field productivity and land΄s desertification.
A simplified description would be that :
We have too much C in the atmosphere and is currently increasing and too little C in the soil and is decreasing.
In a few years time , food demands will have to fulfill the needs of about 10 billion people. This a challenge evoking against many negative factors and predictions.
Modern high technology, in which people seem to rely on, has not yet offered a significant contribution in global food efficiency.
Possibly, a better understanding of Mother Earth, as well as some ancient human΄s, wise practices may help much more.
Biochar is a kind of charcoal made of the carbonization (pyrolysis) of residual biomass. It is defined as : “the solid material obtained from the thermochemical conversion of biomass in an oxygen-limited environment” (International Biochar Initiative).
The word is an English neologism coming from the Greek word “βίος” (life) and “char” from charcoal.
Biochar is a black, solid, porous, active material and can remain, as such, for centuries and millennia in the soil. This refractory ability makes biochar a perfect mean for , almost permanent, C sequestration in the ground, indirectly eliminating C from the atmosphere.
Biochar has a lot of properties and can bare the ambition to be appreciated as the no1 material of sustainable development because It :
– is coming from biomass wastes, that currently function mainly as pollutants
– can enhance sustainable fertility and increase field
productivity i.e. food production
-can attribute in forests and wildlife protection
– can improve livestock΄s health and yield and reduce polluting emissions
– can work against land desertification
– can replace many materials coming from no sustainable sources
– has many uses in the industry and more are emerging
– can deactivate toxic substances , heavy metals and other pollutants
Today , it is obvious that a new scientific field, about the understanding , production , quality assessment , uses and applications of biochar, is rapidly evolving .
Biochar can be produced in many different ways and scales and is not only for industrial units and specialized scientists, but also for farmers and simple house gardeners.
Almost everybody can make his own biochar and use it , provided some basic principals are understood and appreciated.
Every year, olive cultivation in the Mediterranean countries produces millions on tons of waste materials. In Greece only, the output of olive prunings is about 2,5 millions tons annually.
This a major polluting source, causing environmental hazards, mainly due to insufficient management.
Pyrolysis of this residual biomass , may offer energy and the, baring gifts, biochar , reducing the environmental impact of olive cultivation.