Kaesekamp, whose Knights Grapevine Nursery supplies vines and rootstocks to the region’s wineries, believes these vines did especially well thanks to a soil treatment called CoolTerra – a product made from a carbon-rich substance called “Biochar” that is supposed to improve soil fertility and increase water and nutrient retention.
Inspired by the fertility of the biochar-rich Amazonian soil called terra preta, enthusiasm for biochar soil and water additives has grown in recent years.
Biochar is potentially a tool to fight climate change because it can sequester and hold carbon in the soil for a long time.
The International Biochar Initiative, a trade and advocacy group for the nascent industry, estimates that 827 tons of biochar were produced globally in 2013.
“It’s only in the last 10 years that biochar has taken off as an industry on it’s own,” says Sanjai Parikh, an assistant professor of soil chemistry at the University of California at Davis.
“The main problem with biochar is that every biochar every person creates is different,” Parikh says.
In four years of researching biochar, he says, he hasn’t found anyone else who “Has invested time, energy, and money to use technology that can enhance biochar, no matter who makes it“.