ORONO, Maine — Determining how wild blueberry growers can use biochar, charcoal-like material derived from the pyrolysis of wood, to increase soil moisture and aid in the crop’s ability to be resilient to drought will be the focus of a new study by University of Maine researchers. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) awarded more than $74,000 for the project. …Seasonal drought reduces soil moisture through increased evaporation and crop water loss, according to previous UMaine research. …Researchers say biochar may be another soil moisture management tool for many wild blueberry farmers. Because biochar mixes with soils faster and will not be picked up by harvesting equipment, it may be more efficient than wood chips, according to researchers. …“Biochar will not only enhance soil water holding and protect crops from drought, but also help mitigate climate change by locking carbon in soils,” Zhang says.