For a sustainable biochar industry to succeed, it must provide certainty to consumers and markets about biochar and its safe use as a soil amendment. The Standardized Product Definition and Product Testing Guidelines for Biochar That Is Used in Soil (hereinafter referred to as the IBI Biochar Standards) provides the tools needed to universally and consistently define what biochar is, and to confirm that a product intended for sale or use as biochar possesses the necessary characteristics for safe use. The IBI Biochar Standards also provide common reporting requirements for biochar that will aid researchers in their ongoing efforts to link specific functions of biochar to its beneficial soil and crop impacts.
The IBI Biochar Standards are the result of an ongoing multi-year development process that is global, transparent, and inclusive, and that involves the input and participation of hundreds of research scientists, entrepreneurs, farmers and other stakeholders in the drafting, review and approval of the document. The IBI Biochar Standards can be accessed in the Downloads section to the right, and may be freely distributed and used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons copyright license that is included in the document for reference.
On September 30, 2013 IBI published a technical note describing a technical program revision to the Standardized Product Definition and Product Testing Guidelines for Biochar That Is Used in Soil (aka IBI Biochar Standards) version 1.1. The revision allows for additional test methods to analyze the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contents of biochars as required in Test Category B – Toxicant Assessment. A full explanation and rationale is given in the technical note describing the revision. This revision is effective immediately and all users of the IBI Biochar Standards are now able to choose the appropriate test method for PCBs and PAHs in their biochar samples.
On May 29, 2013, IBI officially launched the IBI Biochar Certification Program, developed to further grow the biochar industry. With this program biochar manufacturers are able to certify that their product meets quality standards and is safe for application to soils. Once certified, biochars can carry the “IBI Certified Biochar” seal on their product label. The IBI Biochar Standards serve as the foundation for the IBI Biochar Certification Program and certification approval requires that biochar(s) pass testing requirements specified by the IBI Biochar Standards.
The IBI Biochar Certification Program is fully automated and accessible at: http://www.biochar-international.org/certification, allowing biochar manufacturers/program participants to register, apply, and submit all required documentation on-line. IBI has received some registrations since the program launched and is looking forward to announcing the first certified biochars to carry the “IBI Certified Biochar” seal in the near future.
For questions or further inquiries regarding the IBI Biochar Certification Program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IBI will make periodic revisions to the IBI Biochar Standards based on further development in the fields of biochar science and technology, regulatory changes, and feedback from the public, particularly users of the IBI Biochar Standards. Revisions occur in two forms—policy revisions and technical program revisions—and are effective the date of publication on IBI’s website.
Policy revisions occur when there is a substantive change to the policies, rules, and/or scope of the IBI Biochar Standards that may change the eligibility or acceptability of a biochar material. Technical program revisions occur when technical or editorial changes are deemed necessary. For further details, please review section 7 “Revisions to the IBI Biochar Standards” in Version 1.1.
IBI welcomes your comments and suggestions for improvements to the IBI Biochar Standards. You may send those by email to BiocharStandards@gmail.com.
IBI began work on the IBI Biochar Standards in May 2009. The document was developed through a collaborative and inclusive process with input from the international biochar community to ensure multiple perspectives on the use and functionality of this tool. The process design also provided for a final balloting period that would allow all registered, current members of IBI to vote whether or not to adopt the IBI Biochar Standards. This open and transparent process allows for other entities to easily adopt the IBI Biochar Standards as the basis for their own regulatory or certification programs.
In May 2012 IBI’s membership approved the initial version (retroactively titled Version 1.0) of the IBI Biochar Standards by a 91% majority. In April 2013, IBI published Version 1.1 of the IBI Biochar Standards to address technical program revisions.
The complete process history record, including all draft versions leading up to Version 1.0 of the document, compiled comments received, and minutes from Working Group Meetings is available in this document archive.