Improve Your Garden Soil and Food Quality with Home-made Biochar & cook with it too!


“Biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future. The biochar approach provides a uniquely powerful solution, for it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, and all in an immensely practical manner. ”  

Prof. Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year


Biochar is a type of charcoal, a carbon-rich material produced by burning biomass in the absence of oxygen – slow pyrolysis (Image: Hans Erken)


Simple home-made biochar maker – the flame cap kiln. Design and Photo: Hans Erken
Boichar made in the the flame cap kiln. Design and Photo: Hans Erken



Biochar enhances soils and makes it more fertile. It also increases the capacity of the soil to sequester carbon.
When biochar is added into the soil it creates homes for microorganisms, increases the water holding capacity of soils, adsorbs nutrients, aerates soil, breaks up clay – healthier soil grows healthier plants that are more nutrient dense – so it’s good for the environment and supports the growing of healthier food too.
Biochar production is inspired by the soils created by indigenous people in Amazon Basin – islands of rich, fertile soils called terra preta (“dark earth”). 


There are many uses for biochar – improving soil, sequestering carbon, fuel for cooking, heat for power generation. It is also useful in water filtration, insulation, energy storage and much more (read the link below – 55 Uses for Biochar). In this article they argue thaBiochar so valuable that it should be used at least once before getting worked into the soil.
In the garden, Biochar can be scattered out but it’s best mixed with compost or liquid fertilisers, and added into no-dig gardens, and covered with mulch.
How to activate your Biochar  (Image: The Biochar Project)



Teacher: Hans Erken, Earthcare Enterprises
When: August 20, from 10am – 4pm
Where:The workshop will be at Maleny in the morning to see Han’s innovative technologies and learn how to use and cook with biochar, and we’ll move to Crystal Waters in the afternoon to learn how to make biochar.
Who: Anyone interested in biochar for growing and cooking
Cost: $85, includes a lovely lunch


About the workshop:
I have been fascinated for some time with biochar and have wanted to learn how to make it. I’ve invited Hans Erken, a local biochar enthusiast innovator to lead a workshop with the Ethos Foundation to share with us what it’s all about. He will explore:

  • what is biochar
  • the benefits of biochar
  • ways to use biochar in the garden
  • how can you use the energy created during biochar production
  • how do you make biochar while cooking
  • how do you make biochar on a small and medium scale


Making biochar in the flame cap kiln: Image and design: Hans Erken

Here are some photos from the workshop he ran in 2012. Biochar Workshop Images

Meet Hans Erken and see a little bit of what you will learn in this 2 minute clip:


Biochar – DPI NSW
What is Biochar? – Biochar International Initiative
Biochar Basics – ANZ Biochar Researchers Network
Soil and Water Benefits of Biochar – US Biochar Initiative
Biochar Project – Australia 
55 Uses of Biochar

5 Responses

  1. Morag Gamble
    Morag Gamble at |

    Bookings are via Eventbrite – the link has just gone live. There are 25 places available and the cost is $85 which includes a lovely lunch.

  2. Cityfood Grower
    Cityfood Grower at |

    How much is the biochar workshop and how to register.

  3. Dyllos
    Dyllos at |

    Great that Hans is another promoter who uses the char making process for other functions i.e. cooking – Hate to see that kind of energy being wasted.. Yay!

  4. Erich J. Knight
    Erich J. Knight at |

    Soil Biology is our only way to rapidly and massively draw down CO2 from the air to offset our ongoing and past carbon emissions, It Can safely and naturally restore the hydrological cycles by increasing biogenic aerosols and cloud albedo that can readily cool the planet by the 3 watts/m2 needed to offset the now locked in greenhouse warming effects and avoid the Storms of Our Grandchildren.

    The French have lead the way recognizing Soil Carbons' value and committing to build Soil Carbon by 0.40% annually. Putting them on the road to Carbon Negativity before any industrialized country. 25 nations have signed on to 4p1000. 100 of the 196 countries in Paris submitted plans to reduce CO2 via agriculture, forestry and replacing soil carbon into their programmes.

    A combination of Best Management Practices, (BMPs), for Agriculture, Grazing & Forestry with bioenergy systems which build soil carbon can deliver the giga-tons of carbon necessary into the soil sink bank.

    Ag BMPs; 1 GtC, New Forest & BMPs; 1 GtC
    Pyrolitic Bioenergy, Cooking Stoves; nearly 1/2 GtC
    Industrial Pyrolitic Bioenergy; 2 GtC
    Holistic Grazing; 2+ GtC

    Over 6 GtC,
    So soils & biota can do more than half the 10 GtC reduction job, feeding carbon to life instead of death.

    Carbon Sequestration Cascade;
    Each Black Carbon gram (biochar & humus) can increase Water Retention by 8 grams, and can support 10 grams of Green Carbon, which each can feed up to 10 more grams of fungal mycelium White Carbon growth

    Carbon has been fundamental to life since the birth of our planet. It’s the source of all wealth and the conduit of all joy. Carbon cycles among and between billions of interconnected earthlings, whose fates teeter on the element’s return trip to the soil. Only the generous reciprocity inherent to life macrocycles can restore abundance and harmony to the planet of the living. May we celebrate a happy Intended Anthropocene, anointed in water & Soil rather than Oil and Blood.

    The big problem in tropical soils is with the heat & water inputs microbes break down biomass quickly, compost last in the soils a very short time, so SOC and humus, humic substances, won't build up recalcitrant soil-C.
    The Kayopo Indians however found a way around this with their Terra Preta soil protocols.

  5. Sarah Jacb
    Sarah Jacb at |

    Trees are unique and long lasting items and can survive for longest period of time in your garden. Page