Earthly Biochar, a start-up founded in 2018, aims to combat climate change while restoring soil health through biochar, a carbon-negative emissions technology for industry and gardeners alike. KTN helped Earthly Biochar build powerful connections and access funding to accelerate their innovation.

The KTN AgriFood team helps companies at all stages of their journey, including start-ups at the early stage of the innovation life cycle like Earthly Biochar. Click here to find out how we could help you. 

The need 

To help address global warming, the UK is aiming to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. This is one of the most ambitious targets in the world and to achieve this, the UK needs to reduce emissions as much as possible as well as sequestering the remaining emissions.

The solution 

Soil can play a major role in helping sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Earthy Biochar is working on rolling out biochar, a soil amendment technology, as a practical solution on a mass scale.

In addition to sequestering CO2, biochar has the potential to cut down water and fertiliser use as well as improving crop yields (Laird, et al. 2010, Jeffery et al. 2011, Ding et. al., 2017). This can make it an effective, long-term solution for agriculture that will benefit the sector and the planet.

Earthly Biochar is working towards building a large-scale pyrolysis plant for biochar production in the UK. This will make it less costly and therefore possible to use it in row crops.

How did KTN help? 

Earthly Biochar was one of the winners of the KTN’s Innovation Canvas Competition, which included a workshop session using this tool. The KTN Innovation Canvas helps businesses identify the most important challenges in developing an innovative product, service, or process.

Earthly Biochar founders Lottie Hawkins and Connor Lascelles were looking for support on how to fast-track their innovative solution through better prioritising and building traction, revenue, and awareness for their startup.

During a workshop with two of our AgriFood experts, Debbie Tully and Pedro Carvalho, they built a clear roadmap on how to realise their innovation and R&D ambitions. Debbie and Pedro put together a report highlighting key areas Earthly Biochar should focus their time and energy on.

The team also helped create powerful connections by suggesting potential industry partners that would help fast-track the startup’s work. Earthly Biochar has plans for collaboration with them and is also seeking further industry partners to develop their offer into new areas and to set up a production facility.

“Debbie Tully and Pedro Carvalho connected us with incredible businesses who will make a huge impact on our ability to win more grant funding, providing us with expert knowledge in complex engineering projects.”
Lottie Hawkins, co-founder of Earthly Biochar 

Debbie and Pedro also shared relevant funding opportunities, including the Young Innovators Award. Debbie reviewed Earthy Biochar’s application for the latter, drawing on her 3.5 years of experience helping innovative businesses secure funding. In January 2021, Earthly Biochar won a Young Innovators Award from the UK government and the Prince’s Trust. As part of the award, they’ll receive a £5k grant and 12 months of mentoring support and an allowance to cover living costs.

The impact 

Use of biochar in crop production systems will contribute to achieving the UK’s net-zero target. It’s a recognised carbon removal technology and also has the ability to improve crop yields (Laird et al., 2010, Jeffery et al., 2011, Ding et. al., 2017), reduce soil greenhouse gas emissions (Cayuela et al., 2014), and improve resource efficiency through increasing soil water and fertiliser retention (Biederman and Harpole, 2013, Ali et al., 2017).

Earthly Biochar is on a mission to roll out biochar as a practical solution on a mass scale to improve the environment across all agriculture and horticulture industries.

“It has been a pleasure working with Earthly Biochar, a passionate and innovative start-up working to develop solutions to combat climate change. KTN is helping create positive change and the drive to reach net-zero emissions for the UK and the AgriFood sector as a whole.”
Debbie Tully, Knowledge Transfer Manager AgriFood, KTN