Written by Emily Glaser
Mills River’s CharGrow Is Poised to Fertilize Home Gardens and Agricultural Rows Alike
Jon Nilsson knows his dirt. We don’t mean gossip, we mean muddy, gets-under-your-nails, life-giving soil. He spent years advising companies and government agencies on producing compost and other bio-based products for uses like agriculture, golf, and sports turf before turning to his own project. Nilsson spent several years collaborating on the development of an innovative biological inoculant (an agricultural amendment teeming with beneficial microbes) that promotes plant health and performance. It’s called CharGrow.
As the name suggests, CharGrow is essentially made from charcoal. The basic technology is ancient—man has been using charcoal as a fertilizer for eons—but Nilsson found that biochar (which is made using a specific process that minimizes contamination and safely stores carbon) interacts with soil microbes and plant roots to create unique growing conditions that produce lush, abundant crops. Think of it like probiotics for plants. Over six years of university trials, Nilsson and his collaborators found that CharGrow significantly increased the performance of crops like corn (20 percent increase) and tomatoes (51 percent).
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