Dynamotive in Iowa Biochar Test to Boost Corn Yields, Water Quality and Sequester Carbon

Tom Miles

Dynamotive in Iowa Biochar Test to Boost Corn Yields, Water Quality and Sequester Carbon
Business Wire, May 29, 2007
Joint Research Project to Use Ancient Amazonian Farmland Soil Enrichment Techniques

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Dynamotive USA, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation (OTCBB:DYMTF), a leader in biomass-to-biofuel technology, announced it is taking part in a project to test biochar, a co-product of the company's BioOil([R]) biofuel, as a soil enhancer to increase fertility and corn crop yields.
The project is led by Heartland BioEnergy LLC, based in Webster City, Iowa. Heartland proposes to build a biorefinery in central Iowa that would include a BioOil([R]) and biochar plant developed in partnership with Dynamotive and several agriculture equipment companies.

Heartland works closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Soil Tilth Laboratory, Iowa State University and Iowa Soybean Association in studies coordinated by the Prairie Rivers of Iowa RC&D, an organization that addresses regional environmental issues and economic development opportunities.

From Dynamotive SEC Form 6 K Filing May 30, 2007:
ARLINGTON, Virginia, May 29, 2007 -- Dynamotive USA, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation (OTCBB:DYMTF), a leader in biomass-to-biofuel technology, announced it is taking part in a project to test biochar, a co-product of the company's BioOil(R) biofuel, as a soil enhancer to increase fertility and corn crop
yields.
The project, initially involving 14 tons of Dynamotive-produced biochar, is centered in Iowa's Corn Belt, and aims to replicate ancient Amazonian Indian soil fertilization practices. The soils created then are now
known as "terra preta", which means black soil, and are considered among the most fertile in the world.
Dynamotive's BioOil(R) biofuel is produced using carbon-neutral fast pyrolysis. However, the use of its biochar co-product as an agricultural soil enhancer means the company's production processes would be carbon
negative - resulting in a net reduction of carbon by "sequestering" it in the soil.
The project is led by Heartland BioEnergy LLC, based in Webster City, Iowa. Heartland proposes to build a biorefinery in central Iowa that would include a BioOil(R) and biochar plant developed in
partnership with Dynamotive and several agriculture equipment companies. Heartland works closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Soil Tilth Laboratory, Iowa State University and Iowa Soybean Association in studies coordinated by the Prairie Rivers of Iowa RC&D, an organization that addresses regional
environmental issues and economic development opportunities. "Not only has Dynamotive's biochar the potential to raise high-yield rates of corn another 20%, but we believe there is a real possibility the char trial could also result in evidence that could point the way to dramatic improvements in water quality,
which could have far-reaching beneficial consequences,"said Dr. Lon Crosby, of Heartland BioEnergy.
Dr. Desmond Radlein, Dynamotive's chief scientist behind the company's proprietary fast-pyrolysis technology, added: "Because the biochar does not readily break down, it could sequester, apparently for thousands of years, nearly all the carbon it contains, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Crucially, we expect it to boost agricultural productivity significantly through its ability to retain nutrients and moisture and host beneficial soil micro-organisms." President of Dynamotive USA, Andrew Kingston, said: "By enhancing
productivity of the land and crop yields, sequestering carbon by putting it back into the soil, and producing alongside ethanol and biodiesel our BioOil(R) that displaces hydrocarbon fuel use in industrial applications, we aim to show, with our partners, a virtuous circle of land, crop, fuel and environment management. The Amazonian Indians created the most fertile soils in the world, and today we may be able to benefit from adopting their land management methods."
Dr. Crosby said the field trials will involve three strips of corn crop land 800 feet long and 30 feet wide. One strip will have no char applied, but the second one will have 2.5 tons of char applied per acre, and the third one will have 5 tons. Further tests will follow.
For several decades, scientists have recognized that the most productive soils in Europe have a char base, classifying these lands as "black carbon" based. The role of char was poorly understood and believed to be an indirect effect, resulting from the routine burning of crop residues from naturally productive
soils over centuries. Recent research from South America has shown that the application of char to low productivity soils can turn them into highly productive soils.
Dr. Crosby continued: "Subsequent research has shown that the char, per se, is playing an active role in changing bulk density, modifying soil structure, regulating water storage ability and loosely binding soil nutrients so they are retained and released for plant growth. Outside of the black carbon soils of Europe and the terra preta soils of South America, biochar is a minor soil constituent. However, when scientists have looked, they have found it, suggesting that char was, at one point, an important soil constituent in many soils. It has been found at low levels
in native prairie soils in the U.S. and Canada. This suggests that char application can significantly enhance soil
productivity."
Heartland BioEnergy's proposed biorefinery is expected to serve as the prototype for a series of biorefineries strategically located across the Corn Belt that would use up to 17% of the 10 million dry tons of annually available cornstalk biomass within a 50-mile radius. Cornstalks represent the single largest source of annually renewable energy in the U.S., and Iowa will produce over 40 million tons of cornstalks harvestable on an annual and
sustainable basis.