We explain the benefits of biochar and how the City is implementing it.

What is biochar?

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 examples

Multiple 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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. 



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