What is activating vs charging vs inoculating?
Some practitioners confuse “activating” charcoal with “charging” (covering the biochar surface with soluble minerals) and “inoculating” (filling the biochar pores with beneficial microbes).
When using biochar or activated carbon, it’s important to charge it with nutrients before putting it in your soil, or it will act like a magnet for nutrients and compete with your plants until the magnet is full.
If you’re short on time, mixing the biochar with finished compost or vermicast as part of your growing mixes will be almost as good.
We don’t generally advise using raw biochar in seed raising mix as it’s easy to make mistakes with that, but it can be done successfully
Charged, inoculated biochar acts like a hotel for microbes - providing a refuge from predators and stresses, a buffet of nutrients and a currency exchange where microbes need to trade electrons.
Image credit: Ogawa, Makoto & Okimori, Yasuyuki. (2010). Pioneering works in biochar research, Japan. Soil Research. 48. 489-500. 10.1071/SR10006.