Biochar is a charcoal which is rich in carbon and is formed through thermal decomposition of organic waste in a low oxygen environment. Pyrolysis is a widely used technique to produce it in abundant quantity. Raw materials used for biochar production are easily available and are low in cost, they include plant waste, agricultural residue, wood (wood pellets), and animal manure. Thus, several farmers prefer to produce it on the fields after the harvest as it saves cost of production.
Biochar is primarily used in agricultural operations owing to its soil amending abilities. It provides key essential benefits, such as soil carbon enhancement & sequestration, improved crop nutrient bioavailability, reduction in nutrient leaching, increased water holding capacity, and improvement in aeration, porosity, and structure, for agricultural operations. Furthermore, it helps in increasing microbial activity, enhancing cation and nutrient retention capacity of the soil, and improving the overall fertility of the soil, which results in augmenting crop productivity.
Livestock farming is an extremely important segment in agricultural application. In Europe, more than 90% of biochar produced is used in the livestock sector. This will propel the demand from the livestock and poultry farming sectors and eventually help the market to move towards growth over the forecast period.
The production in the U.S. has witnessed a significant rise on account of its ability to increase soil fertility and provide enhanced crop protection. Therefore, farmers in the U.S are using biochar to provide better economic value for their organic products and to ramp up crop production. The product awareness is highest in North America, while it is gradually increasing in Asia Pacific.
Lack of awareness about biochar among consumers has been a major concern. Most of the farmers are still using synthetic pesticides for crop protection and enhancement of plant growth. A large section of farmers across the world are still unaware about its advantages over other fertilizers, which is restraining the growth of market.
Farmers and consumers need to be educated by soil scientists and horticulturalists about the potential benefits and applications. A robust industry would only be possible if farmers and consumers are aware about the potential benefits of biochar over other fertilizers and its application as a soil enhancement. Farm planning and management, crop advisors, and representatives from various seed companies are some of the ways in which consumer and buyer awareness can be increased.
The market is dominated by companies from North America. Few of the large manufacturers include Agricharge, Airex energy Inc., Diacarbon, BSEI and others. Countries such as China, Japan and Brazil have large unorganised manufacturing sector. Several research institutions and research groups are conducting projects in rural areas, which involves educating them regarding the benefits of biochar. This, is creating huge opportunities for the expansion of overall market in upcoming years.
In-depth report on global biochar market by Grand View Research:
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