WasteX taps biochar technology to boost crop yields in Philippines

Close-up of a big pile of burnt charcoal ash

Climate tech startup WasteX is leveraging its biochar technology through a partnership with a mill in the northern Philippine province of Tarlac. “With WasteX’s solution, agricultural expertise and ongoing operational support, we are now able to offer biochar to our rice farmers and improve their livelihood,” said Renato KaKa Constantino, social entrepreneur officer at the Tarlac mill. “We also wish to make rice farming a more profitable occupation to attract the younger generation.”

Biochar, a charcoal-like substance produced by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry wastes, promises a multitude of benefits for farmers. By making this innovative product readily available, the Singapore-based WasteX aims to foster widespread adoption of the technology, particularly in the face of soaring fertilizer prices and dwindling agricultural yields.

“This initiative comes at a crucial time, with fertilizer prices skyrocketing and agricultural yields suffering,” the company stated.

The biochar produced at the Tarlac facility will be distributed to farms within the mill’s extensive network during the next planting cycle, supporting local rice production and encouraging younger generations to embrace the agricultural sector.

WasteX emphasizes that the use of biochar not only reduces reliance on expensive materials but also promotes long-term soil health and resilience. By binding fertilizer minerals, retaining water, enriching soil, locking in carbon, and reducing overall fertilizer use, biochar promotes more resilient crops, offering a promising solution for farmers to adapt and thrive in a changing landscape.

To streamline the adoption process, WasteX offers an end-to-end integrated biochar solution, comprising its proprietary equipment, mobile app, implementation support, guidance on biochar application in agriculture, and facilitation of carbon credits – maximizing the benefits for agricultural producers and farmers.

“WasteX’s solution addresses both climate mitigation through carbon removal and adaptation through facilitating more resilient agriculture,” the company added.

The startup, established less than two years ago by venture builder Wavemaker Impact, has recently secured $450,000 in funding from the impact fund P4G Partnerships, positioning it for growth in the Philippines and Southeast Asia through expanded reach, cutting-edge biochar equipment, and fresh capital injection.

At the core of WasteX’s biochar technology is its proprietary small-scale and semi-automated carbonizer equipped with a dual-action burner that utilizes both biomass fuel and captured syngas produced during biomass pyrolysis, significantly enhancing energy efficiency and minimizing potential methane emissions.

The company has already completed several biochar implementations on diverse crops in the Philippines and Indonesia, demonstrating impressive results. In corn farming, biochar application resulted in a 95% increase in yield while reducing fertilizer use by 50%. Rice yields also increased by 38% with biochar application, along with the potential for long-term fertilizer reduction of up to 50%.

“These findings highlight the immense potential of WasteX’s biochar technology to revolutionize agricultural practices by enhancing productivity and promoting sustainable resource management,” the startup concluded. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and food security, initiatives like WasteX’s biochar project in Tarlac could pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient agricultural future in the Philippines and beyond.

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