Biochar is a carbon rich charcoal made from agricultural waste heated to very high temperatures. When added to soil it can drastically improve soil health. Biochar acts as a long-term carbon sink and can sequester carbon in the soil for centuries. Therefore, this carbon negative technology can help Minneapolis reach its Greenhouse Gas emissions reductions goals by 80% in 2050. Minneapolis has an incredible opportunity to sequester carbon in soil with Biochar.
In June 2019, the City of Minneapolis passed a resolution that recognizes regenerative agriculture and biochar as a climate action and resilience tool to benefit Minneapolis residents and our environment. As the city moves forward with the resolution, understanding the range of biochar’s potential and uses will be critical to its success. This report outlines biochar’s benefits and ways it has been successful in stormwater management, regenerative agriculture, and urban forestry. Biochar will make Minneapolis a more climate resilient city by reducing flooding risk, combating the urban heat island effect, reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, and reducing pollution in nearby watersheds.
Minneapolis is working in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, University of Minnesota, The Natural Resource Research Institute, and The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance to develop ways to achieve Minneapolis climate goals using biochar for carbon sequestration.
Program ExamplesMultiple biochar projects have been executed in the City since 2014. Environmental Services works with biochar compost in order to improve soil health. For future projects that would aim to increase the efficiency of stormwater management, biochar alone would be used.
- Mishkiikii Gitigan Garden
- LaSalle Community Garden
- Compost biochar mix delivered to be used in a community garden. The garden was successful in 2014 so they did it again in 2015.
- Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls
- Little Earth: Little Earth is a 9.4 acre housing complex. In 2015, Environmental Services began a Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) Comparative Biochar Study. In addition to providing biochar to the community, the goal of the study was to increase crop yields in a compact urban agricultural plot. The study was successful and we found that the plot with biochar yielded better results for all three crops than the non-biochar control plot.
- Juju Garden: Environmental Services planted three test plots to study respiration and infiltration of soil. We found that moisture is better retained with biochar compost and saw a large difference in plant production.
- Main Street
- Worked with the neighborhood association for that area and PW to planted median with trees and flowers.
- University of Minnesota Trees: The Environmental Services team also partnered with the University of Minnesota in 2016 for a 5 year tree study. We put biochar compost in the bottom of the hole and then planted the bare root tree. Every other year, the height and diameter (DBH) of the trees is monitored and compared to trees planted at the same time without biochar.
- Little Earth: Environmental Services conducted an additional Regenerative Urban Farming Study at Little Earth. We studied the growth of plants and soil temperature, moisture, and respiration in the biochar compost soil.
- Conservation of Minneapolis Bees (C.O.M.B.):We planted 150 raised-bed pollinator pod gardens across the City. Native pollinator-friendly plants were planted in a biochar compost and soil mixture. We additionally planted one in the front lawn of the Public Service Center.
- Chicago Lot: The City owns a lot on 22nd Street and Chicago Avenue that we planted a biochar garden on. We created a garden with the 24th Street Urban Faring Coalition to grow food for children impacted by lead poisoning. It was a vacant lot built from the ground up using compost biochar to rebuild soils and improve production.
- Minneapolis Fire Stations 5, 6, 14, and 22: Environmental Services incorporated biochar compost into landscaping projects at four fire stations across the City.
- Highway 55: We collaborated with Public Works and Hennepin County to plant on the median of Highway 55 between 42nd and 46th Street. We used biochar compost to change the landscape of the median and planted a low-maintenance pollinator mix as well as 40 trees.
- In the coming year, 15 boulevards in the Tangletown neighborhood of South Minneapolis will be planted with a pollinator mix and biochar compost. Biochar will also be used in the construction of rain gardens.
- Windom Neighborhood Association: Compost biochar mix being used in 44 community garden raised beds.
- International Biochar Initiative
- US Biochar Initiative (USBI)
- Project Drawdown
- Regeneration International
- Rodale Institute - What's Biochar?
- The Biochar Journal
If you have questions about biochar or potential project partnerships, contact Project Manager Jim Doten at (612) - 673 -3595 or [email protected].
Should you require a reasonable accommodation in order to fully participate, or information in an alternative format, please contact 612-673-2301.
Para asistencia 612-673-2700 - Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 - Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.
Last updated Apr 10, 2020