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Biochar is similar to charcoal from a wood fire, but not exactly the same. It is made by burning plant material in conditions with low oxygen. It is sometimes added by farmers and gardeners to their soils.

Biochar can bind to pesticides in soil. The effect of biochar on pesticide residues in soil varies. Some pesticides may bind to biochar more strongly than others. The binding potential depends on many things. Biochar may be useful because it could potentially hold onto a pesticide and make it less likely to move down through soil toward shallow groundwater.

Just as there are many types of plants, there are many types of biochar. Many factors affect the structure and how it works in soil. The type of plant material and burning conditions affect the structure of a biochar. This may also affect whether a specific pesticide ingredient would bind to it.

If you have questions about pesticides and soil, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

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Last updated November 01, 2022