Given that the increasingly extreme climate situation is destabilizing food production, exacerbating supply chain risk and triggering more frequent and powerful natural disasters, there are a growing number of funding sources and mechanisms focusing on programs that provide solutions to economic development, climate change and social impacts. As biochar can help in each of these realms, biochar projects could be in a unique position to tap into these new funding opportunities, but it may require a change in focus on how the benefits of biochar are communicated.
Now that low cost farm-scale production of biochar has been demonstrated and a growing body of field research shows that nutrient enriched biochar can effectively be used in lieu of more expensive fossil fuel fertilizers, the economic benefits of biochar production and use for farmers in the developing world are compelling. Biochar can also be effectively used to recycle waste nutrients from animal farming and food processing (soaking up otherwise unused or discarded liquids which are rich in nutrients) and to produce organic fertilizers. Replacing abundantly used chemical fertilizers with organic biochar based fertilizers not only reduces a significant portion of farming costs in the developing world but also improves water quality and decreases the climate impact of agriculture in the developing and developed world alike.
The use of biochar in tree planting can improve tree survival rates making it possible to reforest more severely degraded, or remote and abandoned land thereby increasing carbon capture from the atmosphere all the while rebuilding soil. The inclusion of biochar into development projects can further provide important social impacts including improved health from reduced air pollution caused by uncontrolled burning of crop residues or invasive species, better drinking water quality through the use of biochar for filtration, and soils that are more resilient during times of drought or torrential rains. It is this unique combination of benefits, this holistic ecosystem approach which embeds biochar into agroforestry and climate farming projects - instead of the more common singular focus on standalone biochar projects - that should become increasingly attractive to funders that have a broad range of motivations for funding social and ecological impact initiatives.