Lakeland College and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) with assistance from Western Economic Diversification Canada and industry support have developed the Alberta Biochar Initiative. The ABI is intended to develop and demonstrate technologies that will enable the large scale commercial deployment of biochar products and biochar applications for the benefit of Albertans.

Established in Dec 2011, the ABI consists of small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), industry, academia and government sharing information and producing and generating biochar for end-use applications including soil amendments, reclamation, remediation, horticultural growth media and conducting biochar lifecycle analysis for potential carbon sequestration applications. For more information, please contact Don Harfield at or go to:

“Biochar – Chicken Soup for the Soil”

Alberta Biochar Initiative (ABI) Vision and Mission

The mission of the Alberta Biochar Initiative (ABI) is to support the development and commercial deployment of biochar production technologies and the generation and collation of data that assists in the establishment of commercial markets for biochar products made from local feedstock for the benefit of rural Albertans.

For examples of technologies, please see:…

Research Themes

The ABI has been developed around six themes that address the business and technology gaps identified by our team. It is anticipated that ABI Partners would participate in one or more themes to resolve the gaps which pertain to their business or areas of interest. The themes are listed below along with general goals for each.

Theme 1: Biochar Production
Theme 2: Growth Media for Greenhouse Crops
Theme 3: Biochar for Land Reclamation/Remediation and Waste Water Treatment
Theme 4: Demonstrating Biochar as a Soil Amendment to Boost Crop Yield
Theme 5: Alberta Biochar Partner Engagement
Theme 6: Quantification of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Biochar

December 2015 Update: The Canadian Government Approves the Use of Biochar in Soil

The Canadian Government through its regulating agency, Canadian Food & Inspection Agency (CFIA), has approved the use of biochar in soil. This development is the result of two years of concerted work from organizations such as the Alberta Biochar Initiative (ABI), AirTerra, and other provincial biochar proponents to gain CFIA approval.

“Regulatory approval is something ABI has pursued since 2012,” said Don Harfield, who has conducted biochar research and development at Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures for more than 10 years and serves as ABI’s technical lead. “It gives ABI partners the opportunity to pursue a wide range of potential commercial applications for biochar in Alberta and other markets.”

AirTerra President and CEO Rob Lavoie considers CFIA’s approval of biochar for use in soil a game-changing moment. “Now that we’ve gained federal approval, I believe interest in biochar and its numerous commercial applications will take off with Canadian consumers and industries,” said Lavoie. “Gardeners, horticulturalists, farmers, forest products companies and industry will see biochar in a new light. Its economic and environmental potential is enormous.”

For more information, please see

September 2015 Update

After three years of activities, we are pleased to announce the following achievements*:

  • 55 network partners engaged
  • 10 technology demonstrations
  • 8 best practices developed
  • 6 projects completed with private industry
  • 7 different feedstocks processed and characterized
  • 37 network activities, technical seminars, workshops, meetings, and tradeshows
  • 3 regulatory submissions to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • 1 submission of biochar greenhouse gas protocols to the Alberta Government

We are so proud of this excellent collaboration between Alberta Innovates Technology Futures and Lakeland College, which wouldn’t have happened without the contributions of Western Economic Diversification Canada and our partners. We are also grateful for the leadership of Alok Dhungana and Don Harfield who had the vision and energy to drive this initiative to these successful outcomes.

For more information, visit