The Biochar Company (TBC) has joined forces with Radio Lifeline to expand the Black Earth Project, a soil fertilisation initiative which is currently being trialled in Rwanda. TBC is a US-based company that focuses on the social impact potential of the soil amendment biochar. It was recently named a finalist in the Virgin Earth Challenge, a global climate strategy competition jointly sponsored by Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson and Former US President Al Gore. According to the new partners, biochar has the ability to increase yields, lower input costs and improve fertility. It is made from biomass and agricultural waste such as dried maze stalks, grasses, banana leaves and wood chips. “The Black Earth Project comprises 18 test plots within six coffee cooperatives in each of the major coffee-producing regions of Rwanda,” said Radio Lifeline, in a statement. “Early results exceeded our expectations, demonstrating an average 35 per cent increase in yield, accompanied by a 50 per cent decrease in the cost of inputs.” Radio Lifeline said it hopes to eventually create a flexible model that can be easily replicated in other producing regions around the world.