Japan Biochar Association

What is Biochar ?

Biochar is carbonized biomass that is effective to activate living things and improve natural environment, having been internationally recognized in recent years.

In Asian countries where huge population had to survive in limited land, people relied upon labor intensive agriculture such as rice cropping and developed the technology of converting any kind of material around into fertilizer. This is not an old story. Our parent or grandparent had utilized their own excretion, livestock manure, fallen leaves, flesh grass and house ravish as a source of fertilizer intensively. Moreover, carbonized biomass such as rice husk charcoal or wood ash have been valuable material as soil amendment for long time.

But this traditional technology has gradually disappeared as chemical agriculture prevails in 20th century.

In Japan, utilization of rice husk charcoal has been continued by farmers but scientific research on its real effect to crops has not been developed well. In 1970fs, petroleum and gas took place of charcoal and its consumption had declined abruptly. Japanese scientists had started research on agricultural use of it since then. In 1980, Dr. Makoto OGAWA had started research on agricultural use of charcoal and found out symbiosis between plural number of effective microbes and plant root through the medium of charcoal, that promotes the growth of plants. Then a lot of researchers and entreprises have devised the method of compost production and soil amendments by the use of charcoal and wood pyrolysis liquid, as a result, carbonized biomass was authorized as soil amendments by Japanese government in 1986. In 1990fs, the technology of charcoal application for agriculture had almost been completed in Japan and popularized through numerous number of books and disseminated to Asian country such as Indonesia, Philippine, Korea, Taiwan, China and Thailand.

Our first purpose is to re-evaluate Asian agricultural technology as our common property and make use of them to rise up agricultural productivity and conservation of natural environment.

Biochar as a hopeful measure of combating Global Warming(GW)

Although there have been numbers of agreements on limiting GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emission, itfs increasing continuously. The necessity of reducing GHG emission has been internationally advocated but not succeeded at all, but in real, drastic climate change by GW has been coming up. The effect of GW reach to ocean, natural calamity by abnormal weather often happens. Agricultural production is not balanced to the growth of the world population, forest declines and disappears rapidly. No one could forecast that securing food & energy and drastic change of natural environment have become so intensified as seen currently.

Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is still on developing, incomplete, and alternative energy is not a proper option yet. Reduction of current GHG and inactivation of future GHG are inevitable but for GHG that have already been emitted, we have not found the solution, quite difficult to be optimistic.

Needless to say, fossil fuel is a mass of carbon that earth has shut in for 300 million years long. We, human being are going to use it up within less than 300 years. If all carbon in the ground would be released into atmosphere, how it will be?  Observing earth history, emitted carbon dioxide can be absorbed only by green plants on the land and in water area.

Biochar help plantsf growth, rise up productivity and contribute sustaining the quality of soil. At the same time, if we carbonize organic material such as agricultural waste, forest residues, wood waste and food waste, applying & burying them into farm land, forest area or unutilized land in a big volume, it will make possible to shut stable carbon in soil and water for long time.

This idea was advocated from 1990 in Japan and have been studied its realization, but still in trial stage. In Japanese case, at least 100 thousands ton of Biochar is applied in agriculture annually, most of them contain carbon around 80 %, as a result, Japan shut in 250 thousands of ton of carbon dioxide unconsciously.

Second purpose of JBA is building up a system that makes everyone can combat against GW at anywhere, anytime with simple technology by application of charcoal for agriculture, stockraising, fisheries industry, construction and civil works.

Extend the gBiocharh to all over the Asia

In the deep Brazilian Amazon, Terra Preta (=dark earth) existence was known by Ethnologists as that had brought prosperity to natives. In 2000fs, its details has been researched scientifically. It was charcoal, gBiocharh that supported high productivity of their crops. This discovery surprised western scientist, they started to study Biocharfs application to agriculture. Dr. OGAWA was invited to the international gathering on charcoal application for agriculture held in Georgia University, USA, June 2004, to report Japanese experience and mechanism how charcoal effects to plant growth. In Paris, September 2004, he reported again and insisted on agricultural application of charcoal could combat GW.

Through this preparative process, discussion on setting up International study gathering had been heated up in USA and Australia, first gathering named International Agri-char Initiative was held in Australia and the second in England, holding more than 200 participants, 79 posters from 40 countries in the name of International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

Recognizing this hot stream on Biochar, Japan has set up Japan Biochar Association in April 2009 to lead gBiocharh in a right way. And now, we would love to call for commitment by our Asian fellows and organize Asian Biochar Initiative to promote not only research but also practice especially where people will be facing food crisis.

The third purpose of setting up JBA is to extend our useful technology cultivated in Asian environment in order to prepare for crisis on food, energy and environment that will be coming up in the near future.

If you or your company, institute, organization are related to development, research or extension in following subject, letfs join in JBA. Those are;

Carbonizing technology, production & supply of raw material of charcoal, function of carbonized products, production of fertilizer, agriculture, forestry, stockraising, fisheries, water purification, waste water disposal, greening project, civil engineering, construction work and microbial industry.


Charcoal has been playing a great role of activating microbes & plants and led animal their life along the history of earth practically, widely and deeply. We have never heard that charcoal application had brought negative result. Charcoal can be identified as secure and safe material which suits to the law of nature. We would like to contribute to the future of human beings practically, widely and deeply just as charcoal. Your participation will be welcomed sincerely. 

Dr.OGAWA Makoto/President of JBA

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Biochar in Japan
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