A basic understanding of the soil food web is helpful in determining the usefulness of biochar in your system. Plants use chlorophyl to convert sunlight and moisture into sugars. These sugars are used as a type of currency in an underground marketplace. Plants wheel and deal with these sugars to get the nutrients they need to grow and produce more sugars. The buyers of these sugars are the microorganisms. Microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes convert sugars into the nutrients a plant needs to continue to grow.
Biochar increases the surface area (living space) where these microorganisms can thrive. Inoculating, or “charging” the biochar provides food which encourages the multiplication of microorganisms. If you add uninoculated biochar to your soil, it will take a season or two for nature to populate it with microorganisms. By inoculating it with microorganisms before you add it to the soil, you can speed up this process and begin to see immediate returns.
“Charging” your biochar can be achieved in a number of ways. You simply need a source of nitrogen and a source of microorganisms. We recommend the following three methods. Method one is the easiest. Simply add it to your compost heap and when the compost has finished its cycle, the biochar will be “charged” and it will already be mixed in with the compost when you add it to your soil. Method two is to use worm castings. Add one cup for every gallon of biochar and mix thoroughly. Fill the mixing container with water and let it ferment for two to three days before adding the mixture to your soil. The third method is to use worm tea, or compost tea and soak the biochar in this tea for two to three days before adding to your soil.
There are many compost teas, but the easiest would be to fill a bucket with weeds and water and let it steep for a couple weeks. When it turns black and anaerobic, it's ready to be used to charge your biochar. Dilute the teas using 1 cup of tea per gallon of biochar and fill the container with fresh water. These methods are tried and true, but there are many techniques you can use with biochar as an essential ingredient. Explore Korean Natural Farming (KNF), for more exciting ways to "charge” your biochar.