Biochar School: Appropriate Technology for the Small Farm

Erin Rasmussen

Announcing an exciting new biochar learning opportunity
More info and registration coming soon!

  • 5 days of learning and experimentation at Swallow Valley Farm in Sonoma County, California
  • Produced by Wilson Biochar Associates, New England Biochar, LLC and Biocarbon Associates
  • Co-sponsored by US Biochar Initiative, Sonoma Biochar Initiative, Southern California Biochar Initiative and others TBA

Sign up at: http://biocharschool.brownpapertickets.com/
- See more at: http://greenyourhead.typepad.com/biochar_school/#sthash.SQoSrFGa.dpuf

Sign up NOW to get more information – add your name to the email update list for the Biochar School here: biocharschool.bpt.me

This program will demonstrate simple, small to medium scale biochar production technology, with lessons and demonstrations of methods for feedstock selection and handling, biochar post-processing and application. You will leave the school with a well-rounded experience and knowledge of the nuts-and-bolts practicality of on-farm biochar systems. Here are some of the topics we will cover:

  • Building low tech biochar devices
  • Design for combined heat and biochar
  • Biomass & biochar handling: matching feedstocks to devices, size reduction, drying, grinding, storage
  • Biochar mixtures and preparations: compost, bokashi, minerals, wood vinegar
  • How to test and characterize biochar
  • How to apply biochar
  • How to set up field and pot trials to assess biochar effects
  • How to match biochars to soils and crops
  • Integrating biochar in permaculture practices

About the venue: Swallow Valley Farm provides a unique combination of resources: a working farm with an established system built around the stationary Adam Retort of the Sonoma County Biochar Project; a large meeting room that can hold 50 people; a huge pole barn for under-roof activities; and nearby permaculture farms where biochar is in active use.

Housing and meals: Unlimited camping is available at the farm, or you can opt to stay at nearby hotels or cabins. A caterer will work in our large, professional kitchen preparing all meals.

Faculty (preliminary list):

  • Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates, editor at the Biochar Journal, researcher at the Ithaka Institute
  • Peter Hirst, New England Biochar, Sonoma Biochar Initiative, Swallow Valley Farm
  • Raymond Baltar, Sonoma Biochar Initiative, Biocarbon Associates
  • Gloria Flora, Executive Director, US Biochar Initiative
  • Paul Anderson, Dr TLUD, Chip Energy
  • Toby Hemenway, Pattern Literacy, author of Gaia’s Garden
  • Michael Wittman, Blue Sky Biochar, Southern California Biochar Initiative
  • Art Donnelly, SeaChar, Estufa Finca
  • John Miedema, BioLogical Carbon, biochar educator and innovator
  • Josiah Hunt, Pacific Biochar
  • Simran Raphael, Regenerative Earth, Bloomfield Organics
  • Philip Small, Land Profile, Inc
  • Matt Banchero, the Tree Hugging tree cutter
  • Damien McAnany, Ecological Landscaper

- See more at: http://greenyourhead.typepad.com/biochar_school/#sthash.SQoSrFGa.dpuf

Friday, Nov 7 – Biochar in Context
1:00 – Biochar 101: Introduction to biochar
2:00 – 4:00 Biochar kiln demonstration
4:00 – Toby Hemenway: A Permacultural Approach to Biochar, Carbon, and Soil
5:00 – Gloria Flora: Biochar and Sustainability
6:00 – Social Hour
7:00 – Dinner – Kelpie Wilson: Biochar Standards and the Industry
8:00 - 9:00 – Evening campfire

Saturday, Nov 8 – Introduction to Biochar
7:30 - Breakfast
8:00 - Biochar 101: Introduction to biochar
9:00 – Noon
• Terra Preta Sanitation
• Build and fire a Hawaiian pit kiln
• Conservation burn techniques – turn brush to biochar
• Make a biochar stove or Jolly Roger Oven
Noon - Lunch
1:00 - 5:00
• Feedstock management
• Biochar and permaculture
• Biochar characterization
• Open fire kilns and new devices
5:00 – Pyrolysis 101: Introduction to pyrolysis science and technology
6:00 – Social Hour
7:00 - Dinner
8:00 - 9:00 – Evening campfire

Sunday, Nov 9 – Advanced Topics in Biochar I
7:30 - Breakfast
8:00 – Biochar 201: Biochar compost science and methods
9:00 – Noon
• Terra Preta Sanitation
• Conservation burn techniques – turn brush to biochar
• Open fire kilns and new devices
• Make a biochar stove or Jolly Roger Oven
• Biochar fertilizer formulations
Noon - Lunch
1:00 – 5:00
• Nutrient capture and bio-filtration on the farm
• Biochar characterization
• Biochar and permaculture
• Feedstock management
5:00 – Pyrolysis 201: Pyrolysis Economics for Farm Scale
6:00 - 9:00 – Luau Dinner

Monday, Nov 10 – Advanced Topics in Biochar II
7:30 - Breakfast
8:00 – Biochar 201: Biochar application rates and application methods
9:00 - Noon
• Terra Preta Sanitation
• How to operate the Adam Retort
• Make a biochar stove or Jolly Roger Oven
• Nutrient capture and bio-filtration on the farm
Noon - Lunch
1:00 – 5:00
• Field trip to local farm
• Biochar and permaculture
• Biochar fertilizer formulations
• Open fire kilns and new devices
5:00 – Pyrolysis 201: Design for Heat Transfer
6:00 – Social hour
7:00 – Dinner
8:00 - 9:00 Evening Campfire

Tuesday, Nov 11 – Future of Farm Scale Biochar and Biochar Education
7:30 - Breakfast
8:00 – 10:00 Panel Discussion: Future of Farm Scale Biochar
10:00 – Noon – Discussion: Where do we go from here?
Noon - Lunch

Lecture Descriptions

  • Biochar 101 – the basics about biochar and how it works in soil (Gloria Flora)
  • Pyrolysis 101 – the basics about the chemistry and physics of the biochar-making process and how different devices work (Peter Hirst)
  • Biochar 201 (part 1) -- Biochar Compost Science & Methods (Josiah Hunt, Pacific Biochar & Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates)
  • Biochar 201 (part 2) – Biochar Application Rates & Application Methods (Phil Small, Land Profile & John Miedema, BioLogical Carbon)
  • Pyrolysis 201 (part 1) -- Design for Heat Transfer (Peter Hirst, New England Biochar & John Miedema, BioLogical Carbon)
  • Pyrolysis 201 (part 2) – Pyrolysis Economics for Farm Scale (Josiah Hunt, Pacific Biochar & John Miedema, BioLogical Carbon)

Lab Descriptions

  • Open Fire Kilns – how to make and operate pit kilns, cone kilns, top lit open burns and new devices (Michael Wittman, Blue Sky Biochar & Paul Anderson, Dr. TLUD)
  • Make a Jolly Roger Oven – make this 55 gallon gasifier to take home. $100 materials fee (Art Donnelly, SeaChar)
  • Make a Biochar Stove – make a very simple, easy tin can stove that you can really cook on that makes biochar from wood pellets (Paul Anderson, Dr. TLUD & Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates).
  • Feedstock Management – learn how to process, handle and store different feedstocks (Matt Banchero, “the tree-hugging tree cutter”)
  • Adam Retort – learn how to operate the Adam Retort (Peter Hirst, New England Biochar)
  • Biochar Characterization – learn how to tell different biochars apart and what they are good for (Phil Small, Land Profile)
  • Biochar Fertilizer Formulations – learn how to make biologically active, nutrient charged biochar with compost and other ingredients (Josiah Hunt, Pacific Biochar & Simran Rafael, Regenerative Earth)
  • Nutrient Capture and Bio-Filtration on the Farm – make a biochar/sand filter; learn about the biochemistry of filtration and use of biochar in swales (John Miedema, BioLogical Carbon).
  • Biochar and Permaculture – learn how biochar works in permaculture systems (Gloria Flora, USBI)
  • Terra Preta Sanitation – learn how to close the loop with biochar and use biochar to manage human waste (Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates)

More info at: www.greenyourhead.com