Hawai'i Agriculture Notes: Biochar

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These notes are maintained by Ben Discoe (Tea Farm / Blog)
These notes are mostly out of date, typically from 2007-2009, but some parts are more current.


Seedlings illustrating the difference between plants grown in biochar-amended soil (darker soil on the right).





Sri Lanka


In Hawaii

How best to make it, on the scale of a small farm?

My own kiln/retort (May 2010)

My own pit (June 2010)

Crushing / Sifting


Some commercially available biochar

Model Capacity Where Price
Tesaki T105 basic retort: 105 liters Japan ~$4000
Four Seasons Charcoal Retort basic retort: cylinders, 6ft long by 3ft 4 inches, together ~250kg of char UK £17,500 (+17.5% vat)
Biochar Solutions'
200 kg of biomass per hour to produce 50 kg char Golden, CO  ~$100k-200k ?
Genesis Industries
Model CR-2
200 kg of biomass per hour to produce 50 kg char Redondo Beach, CA ?

Summary of commercially available char in the USA

Source Product Amount Price US$/Lb Where Notes
  typical activated charcoal     ~$2-$4    
SunGro "Black Gold" Horticultural Charcoal  2qt. ~$3 $3.45 "Western US"  
Quarter Acre Orchids Horticultural Charcoal 1 gal. $6.50 $3.75 Alexandria, VA  
Ecotechnologies Soil Reef™ 5 gallons (~9 lbs.) $48.75 + $14.95 shipping >$5 "Continental US"  
RhizoChar Group RhizoChar™ 50 lb. $150, includes shipping $3 Hillsborough, NJ "inoculated with soil food web microbes and nutrients"
BuyActivatedCharcoal Charcoal GREEN™
50 lb $141 $2.82 Crawford, NE? "inoculated with beneficial soil microbes and enriched substrates"
Energy Anew, Inc. Biocharm™ 15 quarts
 (~5lb dry
$11 retail,
~$2.20 - $6.80 San Rafael, CA sold by volume.
pre-charged with something; site doesn't say what
Aztec Wonder Bio-Char 27 lbs. / 6.43 gal. $50 $1.85 Missouri. Price is mailed; could be less locally.
Interra Energy Interra Preta 1/2 cu ft $15.95 ~$1.60 San Diego, CA?  
Landscape Ecology   1 cu. ft (~10lb dry weight) $15/$22.50 retail ~$1.50-$2.50 Hilo, HI sold by volume (damp) not by weight
e.g. Real Montana or
Cowboy Charcoal
typical cooking charcoal     ~$1 throughout the USA, e.g. Lowes  
Biochar Engineering   1 lb $1
+ S/H etc.
$1 Golden, CO  
Vee-Go Biochar Xtra (VBX) 14 lb
(10 qt.)
$0.92 Easthampton, MA ($1.63/lb. w/shipping)
is also 7-3-7 fertilizer
Burt's Greenhouses Biochar 90 L (~18.7kg,
41.2 lb)
~$0.57 Odessa, ON
Dynamotive CQuest™ BioChar 122 lb drums   $0.50 West Lorne, ON
"the brand the USDA is shipping to test sites around the country"
Black Earth Products Biochar 4kg (8.8lb) AUS$4 $0.40 Australia "This Product is not yet available."
Chip Energy to be announced?
not on website
metric ton $400 $0.20 Goodfield, IL price reported on biochar list
CarbonChar Group CharGrow ? ?   NJ? NC? "IN STOCK AND AVAILABLE NOW!" but not actually?

Testing of Char



Education resources for spreading the word

Char in Hawaii

Email Groups

Applying to the Soil: How Much?