- Is Soil Reef™ a fertilizer?
- Soil Reef™ is not a fertilizer, it is a permanent soil amendment. The Soil Reef 100% Biochar does not contain nutrients, it is simply providing permanent soil structure, a home for microorganisms, and will help your fertilizer to go further in your garden. We recommend mixing 100% biochar with compost and other essential nutrients necessary for your garden.
Our Soil Reef Compost Blend contains compost and worm castings, which provide nutrients and organic matter to soil. You may still require other nutrients or amendments, depending on your soil type and conditions, but the Compost Blend is ready to use and will provide excellent benefits for most soils.
- How will it affect my crops in quantity and size?
- Soil Reef™ can increase your crop yields, both in size and quantity. The porous carbon in biochar helps to increase nutrient bio-availability and water retention, and helps to support the soil web life.
- How long until I see results?
- Many people see results in the first year after application, but results vary depending on the soil type and the availability of nutrients at the time of application. The benefits can continue for many years, as the life of your soil continues to grow and thrive. Soil Reef™ is a permanent soil amendment; however, adding more year after year, as the ancient Amazonians did, can increase your soil-building and harvest-reaping benefits.
- Is biochar organic?
- Yes, biochar is organic, made from uncontaminated wood residues. Soil Reef™ is actively seeking organic certification. Soil Reef™ Compost Blend contains organic aged compost and organic worm castings, both OMRI certified and supplied by our partner company, Organic Mechanics.
- Do I need to add anything to Soil Reef™?
- Biochar by itself, once applied, will adsorb moisture and nutrients when mixed with soil, so it is very import to mix Soil Reef™ in advance of application to your soil. Soil Reef™ comes in two types, Compost Blend, which is a ready to use product, and Soil Reef™ 100% Biochar, which should be mixed with compost or other active soil nutrients to prepare it for productive use.
- Should I use 100% Biochar or the Soil Reef Compost Blend?
- If you are not making or adding your own compost, we recommend using the Compost Blend. If you produce your own compost or purchase it elsewhere, or have other soil amendments you are working with and would like to see how the addition of biochar effects your garden, then we recommend using 100% Biochar and blending it with your compost before mixing it into your soil.
- If I use biochar, do I still have to rotate my crops?
- Rotating crops is always good for soil health and structure, although biochar may have positive effects on your ability to rotate less and maintain production levels. Result will vary. Soil Reef™ makes soil into better performing soil and better soil makes for better plants and crops – it is that simple.
- Is Soil Reef™ ash?
- Soil Reef™ is not an ash product. It does contain the low levels of ash found in the starting wood residues used to make Soil Reef™.
- How much ground will I be able to cover with a bucket of Soil Reef™ and Soil Reef™ Compost Blend?
- This depends on how much char you add to a specific area of soil. Directions for Soil Reef™ 100% biochar product is 1” tilled in 5 inches, covering about 8 square feet. With Compost Blend, 50% biochar mix by volume, you can add more or less biochar to the soil. Results and applications can and will vary.
- Will Soil Reef™ change my soil’s PH?
- It could, this depends on your soils existing PH. Soil Reef™ Biochar averages a pH of about 8, slightly less in Soil Reef™ Compost Blend. After a few good rainfalls, Soil Reef™ will not influence the long-term pH of the native soil.
- Is this killing trees?
- No. Soil Reef™ is made from wood residues that would be left to rot or intentionally burned for disposal. The starting material is the current waste streams from wood harvesting and wood product production. Soil Reef™ actually serves to stabilize the carbon in the wood residues to act as a permanent soil amendment, with the carbon returning to the atmosphere after a very long time. As a natural soil amendment, Soil Reef™ is not dangerous when applied correctly and is good for all type of trees, plants and vegetables.
- How is biochar different from charcoal?
Simply put, not all carbons and charcoals are the same and it essentially comes down to what’s on the inside.
Biochar is a type of charcoal intentionally crafted to help improve your soil. You can expect it to perform poorly if you try to use it to cook steaks on a grill.
Charcoal, for the most part, is intended for fuel. Barbeque charcoal briquettes should never be used in soil as they are commonly a coal product with chemical additives that may damage your soil.
"What makes this black stuff so different?" A good fuel product burns well in part due to the tars and resins inside which can have negative effects in soil. Conversely, good biochar helps hold nutrients, water, and support microbial life.
- Can I user biochar in compost?
Yes! Using biochar in compost can improve the compost process and the end product.
Using biochar in compost has been shown to reduce nutrient loss and odors, increase microbial activity and microbial diversity, and even reduce the time needed until the compost is fully mature.
The biochar itself also benefits from being in the compost process. While in the moist, nutrient rich, and microbially active compost, the biochar’s surface can become “charged up”, like a re-chargeable battery getting it’s first load.
In terms of the best application rate for biochar and compost, in our experience we’ve found that for a well-balanced compost, a proper application rate is about 3% to 5% by volume. Nutrient rich manure-based composts can benefit from higher rates of 5% to 15% by volume. And when mixing with straight fresh manure, even higher rates can be used.
- Can biochar help reduce drought stress? How?
What has been found is a resounding yes.
Biochar is very porous and can hold several times its weight in water. In areas where biochar has been applied, plants have shown less drought stress and water savings of 10%-50% are not uncommon. Biochar has been shown to increase water holding capacity and availability across a wide spectrum of soils and potting media. The benefits can be especially pronounced in sandy soils.
Clay soils, which naturally have a high water holding capacity, are much more susceptible to compaction. Biochar, which is light textured and highly porous, can relieve issues of compaction while also adding to the total water holding capacity – leading to an increased ability for water to quickly percolate into to the root zone and stay there.