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By Ethan Nelson – Minnesota Daily September 09, 2014

University researchers are using a traditional charcoal-like substance to boost plant growth.

For centuries, the indigenous communities of the Americas cut down and burned vegetation, using the remains to fertilize the soil underneath.

Now, in locations around the Twin Cities, city leaders are working with a local Native American community and the University of Minnesota to test a modern application of the age-old technique.

In two separate studies, the updated farming technique uses biochar — a soil addition created by burning wood waste products — mixed with compost to try and shrink trees’ mortality rates and help plants grow.

The city’s study aims to discover how soil additions impact urban farms. Officials have added biochar to five gardens around the metro area this year. Read more…..

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