Circle Carbon is all about the Environment and the Communities that make up the environment. For a community to thrive, basic needs have to be met; Food Security is on the top of that list, alongside healthy and clean air, water, and soil. At Circle Carbon they regenerate soil by applying a thousand-year old technology found in the Amazon basin of Brazil called “Terra Preta”. The main ingredient in Terra Preta is BioChar, a special charcoal made from biomass residues. They make biochar and apply it to their compost to make our special super soil that we call “Terra Llum” (“Earth Light” in Catalan). The special properties of our TerraLlum substrate have proven to be very beneficial to plants, increasing both yield and quality of produce and restoring life and productivity to fruit-bearing trees. The properties of the biochar and the production process make it what we believe to be the best possible way to mitigate climate change, capturing carbon dioxide and storing it in the ground, where it belongs.
Building a Virtuous Circular Economy At Circle Carbon Labs they work with the concept of a Virtuous Circular Economy, as opposed to a neutral Circular Economy (or a vicious economy of ever-diminishing returns). In virtuous circular economy we see the cumulative addition of our biochar-based substrate as yielding ever- increasing gains in agriculture; more healthy soils, more growth; more growth, more biomass feedstock; more feedstock, more biochar based substrate, more growth of plants and trees, etc., More plants and trees, more carbon dioxide drawdown. Carbon Negative is Planet Positive!
The Farm Initially conceived as a showcase for what happens when you grow vegetables and trees in their special soils, the Corona crisis in March 2020 helped them reinvent themselves, offering at first only their “demo garden” vegetables. These became so popular so fast that they began developing The Farm for large scale vegetable and fruit production, ramping up from 500m2 to what will be more than 5500 m2 of indoor (green house) biochar-grown produce, and soon some further 2500m2 of outside cultivation.
The benefits of “TerraLlum” Biochar With organic biochar, the nutrients present in soil can be better stored, the delivery and bioavailability of nutrients improved which in turn leads to more efficient results. With regular use, soils are permanently improved, which translates into better growth, higher yields and healthier plants. The use of organic Biochar promotes and improves; Soil Health – through long-term stewardship; increased microbial activity, water retention, reduced soil compaction Climate Stability – through careful monitoring of the net carbon footprint of our activities; Water Use – through making agricultural production at all scales cleaner and more efficient; Biological Diversity – through the use of sustainably produced feed stocks only; Waste Avoidance – through better use of biomass waste; Food Security – through improving soils and conserving agricultural land; increased production and quality Energy Security – through energy efficiency and utilizing excess energy from biochar production; Community Health – through respecting and investing in our communities; and more. Soil Regeneration Their soil has its origins in the Amazon Jungle, where “Terra Preta”, or “Black Soil” was first discovered some 100 years ago. It was found that these soils were extremely fertile, something that cannot occur naturally in the Amazon, due to the heavy rainfall that washes naturally occurring top soil away, so they are anthropocene, or man-made. Terra Preta soils have been dated up to 8000 years old. The main differentiating ingredient in Terra Preta is BioChar. Bio Mass Management Circle Carbon make BioChar from organic waste residues, tree cuttings and other agricultural waste. The biochar is then mixed with a recipe of organic minerals and nutrients, more (unburned) biomass waste, and allowed to compost, giving microorganisms the ideal habitat to convert the biomass to nutrient rich soil. Carbon Removal Making Biochar also traps CO2 gas in the carbonized biomass and creates a “soil reef” where valuable microorganisms can multiply, making nutrients and minerals more available to plants, that in turn make these nutrients and minerals available to us. This ability to make the char recalcitrant, or permanent, makes it carbon negative, or a valuable method to mitigate climate change by fixing, or “trapping” the CO2 in the char, and putting it back into the soil, where it belongs. Food Security Ten million hectares of fertile soil are disappearing on the planet every year, that’s the size of Portugal, and it’s not coming back if we continue with agriculture as usual. Soils in the Mediterranean have on average less than 1% of carbon, or organic matter; by definition that puts our Mediterranean soils in a category of “pre-desertification”, incapable of supplying food to its population. Although Mallorca and the Balearic islands can boast 33% of its agricultural land to be certified organic, the islands import 88% of their food from the mainland Spain, themselves suffering under a changing climate and extreme weather. Food Security is about reversing this trend, putting value on locally produced, organic and nutrient rich foods. To do this we have to start thinking about our soils, that’s why at Circle Carbon it’s all about regenerating soil and showing how we can increase our Food Security by adopting smart agriculture for real food. Circle Carbon Biochar is made using tree cuttings from mainly Olive, Almond, Carob, and Pine residue, all sourced locally. The cuttings are dried, cut, then fired to between 400° C and 800° C and afterwards quenched with water in our “Kon-Tiki” reactor kilns under exclusion of air. Bulk density: 0.25 kg / Litre.
Biochar is not a nutrient, but due to its large surface area (between 100 and 500 m2/ gram) an optimal habitat for desirable (aerobic) microorganisms! Supplied nutrients are initially stored and can therefore no longer be lost. The efficiency of fertilisation can be increased considerably.
With proper application of the organic biochar, the humus content and soil fertility increase rapidly. This is reflected in an improved soil structure (the soil becomes looser), an increase in water absorption and an increase in water storage capacity. The plants become more resistant to disease and pests. Especially in years with unfavourable weather, plant growth remains healthy and yields stable.
Why Circle Carbon “VerdaLlum” vegetables & fruits are different What makes Circle Carbon vegetables different? Some say that you taste the difference, others say they look different. By growing in the best soil possible we ensure the maximum amount of available nutrients to encourage healthier, natural growth. It’s working with the smallest of organisms to help the biggest of organisms, our planet Earth. Giving us delicious tasting, nutrient rich vegetables. Ultimately, the health of any plant or animal organism depends on the access and availability of nutrients and minerals. In plants, it’s the availability and access to these minerals and nutrients in the soil. It is thanks to the smallest of creatures, the microorganisms, the mycorrhizal function of fungi and their structures, called mycelium, that indirectly make these nutrients and minerals available to us. One handful of soil contains literally trillions of these microorganisms, and it’s to them that we owe our health and well being, and perhaps most important of all, our ability to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, our immune system. Yet surprisingly, we know very little about the myriad work and activity of these microorganisms. What we do know is that a healthy soil, and therefore healthy plants, need a rich, abundant, and balanced number of the trillions of microorganisms that make our food nutrient rich and full of minerals. Habitat For microorganisms to thrive, and do what they do, they need safe and comfortable habitats. Microorganisms like dark and damp places, and of course they need food, the minerals and nutrients in the soil they process and eat, and make available to plants. The fibrous structure in a plant creates passageways and cavities that allow water to bring the nutrients to different parts of the plant or tree. In trees this is visible when cutting a branch in spring and seeing the water drip or sometimes, even flow out of it. Some cactus have so much water in them that they are like reservoirs for water, a fact indigenous people of the desert know and take advantage of on long treks across deserts. Enter Biochar When fibrous biomass is carbonized using pyrolysis, a burning in absence of oxygen, and added to the soil, the pores and cavities become an ideal housing structure for microorganisms, we call them sponges, or five star hotels for microorganisms.
Carbon Negative is Planet Positive Making Biochar also traps CO2 gas in the carbonized biomass and creates a “soil reef” where valuable microorganisms can multiply, making nutrients and minerals more available to plants, that in turn make these nutrients and minerals available to us. This ability to make the char recalcitrant, or permanent, makes it carbon negative, or a valuable method to mitigate climate change by fixing, or “trapping” the CO2 in the char, and putting it back into the soil, where it belongs.