Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is it?
In 2018, the USDA National Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) introduced a new Interim Conservation Practice Standard called the Soil Carbon Amendment under Code 808 that proposed guidelines for funding biochar and compost applications through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
In 2022 it was adopted at the federal level as a Conservation Practice Standard (no longer interim) for Soil Carbon Amendment, under Code 336. Here’s a link to the Soil Carbon Amendment (Ac.) (336) Conservation Practice Standard. Please, follow the link and download the PDF for more information about the new standard.
The new standard is set to be adopted nationally under Code 336, but will be referenced under Code 808 for now in most states (such as in California).
Will the EQIP program pay for biochar applications?
This will vary state by state and potentially year by year. You can find more information by reviewing the EQIP Payment Schedules by State. You can also find out more information by contacting your local NRCS Service Center and/or contacting a Technical Service Provider.
How much will NRCS pay for biochar applications?
In FY 2023, California is offering funding up to $194.41 per cubic yard, for qualified applicants and historically underserved (HU) farmers and ranchers applying biochar to address an identified natural resource concern (still listed as Code 808). Payment schedules link here
How do I apply?
- Reach out to your local NRCS agent.
- Local NRCS Service Centers can be found with this helpful NRCS locator app
- A general guide can be found on the NRCS page for How to Apply.
- Or reach out to us at Pacific Biochar (firstname.lastname@example.org), we are happy to help answer any questions!
Will NRCS pay for biochar applications on any farm?
No, the program can only provide assistance for applying biochar to address an identified natural resource concern.
Additionally, the program does not cover all farming operations. As noted on the Conservation Practice Standard (as published in November, 2022), there is provided a list of the “Conditions where Practice Applies: This practice applies to areas of Crop, Pasture, Range, Forest, Associated Agriculture Lands, Developed Land, and Farmstead where organic carbon amendment applications will improve soil conditions.”
The section at the top of the Soil Carbon Amendment (Ac.) (336) Conservation Practice Standard, titled Purpose, identifies the NRCS acknowledged purposes for which a biochar application may receive assistance.
It is our understanding that these purposes correlate to a natural resource concern. For example; if a soil has notably low organic matter, this can be considered a natural resource concern and biochar may be applied for the purpose of addressing this natural resource concern. Please take note that we may be interpreting this wrong, and advise you to check with your local NRCS Service Center or Technical Service Provider for details.
Can any biochar be used?
Not any biochar can be used, the biochar must meet certain standards outlined by NRCS in the Soil Carbon Amendment (Ac.) (336) Conservation Practice Standard. Follow the link for more information on the requirements for biochar and other carbon amendments.
Here is a screenshot of the requirements for all carbon amendments (biochar, compost, other):
In addition to the requirements listed above for all carbon amendments, there are some additional requirements for biochar, as shown in the screenshot below:
Can I use biochar from Pacific Biochar in this program?
Will the upcoming Farm Bill affect any of this?
Yes! 2023 is a Farm Bill year, and what is written in the Farm Bill that is eventually approved will definitely affect the potential for NRCS to offer assistance in biochar applications to address natural resource concerns. If you’d like to see increased funding for biochar applications in the upcoming Farm Bill, the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry has a page for Farm Bill Input.