Thursday, February 11, 2010
There's a perplexing story on the USA today website. The title is "Could chicken manure help curb climate change?" Here's the gist: A farmer is able to turn chicken manure into "...a charcoal-like substance known as "biochar" — which is not only an excellent fertilizer, but also helps keep carbon in the soil instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere..." Well, that sounds great!
Digging a little deeper reveals some contradictory info:
"Because biochar contains high levels of carbon, the element contained in all living things, it often serves as a very effective organic fertilizer..." BUT "the carbon in biochar is particularly resistant to that conversion, so it stays "locked into" the soil much longer than other, unprocessed substances — as long as 1,000 years in some cases." Fertilizer that doesn't break down?! How is that fertilizer? Maybe I'm missing something here?
I just hope that farmer (who paid $1 million for his biochar machine) can make some money from this venture...or at least break even.