Biochar in the Soil

Biochar Bob highlights a project near DC where they are using biochar in a wetland restoration project to filter pollutants out of run-off and restore natural water infiltration to that neighborhood.

For more videos from Biochar Bob see his YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/BiocharBob

From Living Web Farms in Mills River, North Carolina
http://www.livingwebfarms.org/

Great introduction to making clean biochar lead by Bob Wells, soil scientist Jon Nilsson and Patryk Battle.

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Biochar blends
Biochar blends is for creating value added products using biochar and different types of matter (living and non-living) for soil amendments and also multiple uses before ultimately reaching the soil. This is a simple chart to explore the possibilities of using biochar considering diversity of conditions in the field such as soils, types of crops, environments, climatic conditions, availability of raw materials, socio-economic, cultural, traditional, etc.
http://www.slideshare.net/saibhaskar/biochar-blends

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From Biochar Merchants, some great tips for using Biochar in your Compost Bin or pile.

http://biocharmerchants.com/index.php/building-soils-by-composting-with-...

HowTo

  1. For a new pile or bin, start with a layer of biochar to catch nutrients from the compost bin that would normally seep into the ground with normal water flow
  2. Add 12 inches (or a decimeter) of compostable materials, e.g. yard waste, kitchen cuttings, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. - alternate 'greens' and 'browns' and make sure that the particle size is fairly small -about an inch or two or less in size.
  3. Add a layer of biochar (no more than 1/2 inch)
  4. Keep building the compost as normal
  5. Keep in mind, that turning the compost and keeping it moist but not too wet will help change it into the magical dark fertile compost we love.

Also go to the Biochar Merchants web site for more Soil Building articles:
http://biocharmerchants.com/

Some good reasons to compost with Biochar

ithaka Journal Home Garden Study Results

Ithaka Journal worked with home gardeners from across Switzerland to conduct a 2 year home garden test plot study. In the study, home gardeners aged the biochar in their own compost, and applied the biochar on a 1 Meter square test plot, then compared the results with an identically planted 1 Meter square control.

The results were mixed, and there were a lot of reasons given by the authors for this. The biggest variable that they isolated in the study was the compost. Apparently the quality of the compost varied quite a bit, and could easily have accounted for a lot of the mixed results.

Additionally, the biochar amended compost was mixed into the top few inches of the planting beds. Some crops are fairly shallow rooted, and that get good benefits from this type of amendment, but most plants will do better if the biochar is blended with good compost and soil and applied to the whole root zone. We've seen better results when the planting holes are amended.

the Methodology in full:

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Sornam Alagarsamy

we at Dr MGr Jatropha Biodiesel Project are now engajed in Jatropha oil manufacture
and also we plant bamboosa Vulgaris Bamboo
we have plans to convert all the Bamboo to Charcoal and supply to the world

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Peter Ongele, August 2011

Dear All,
I would very much appreciate your response and comments on this report and to know any further information I should have included in the report. As I mentioned early in previous letter, we are to run organic farming seminar training from 22/8/20011 to 26/8/2011 to the farmers. I've got already experts to help me conduct the training. I kindly need to confirm the possibility of financial help to facilitate the training.
Thank you all for taking your time to consider and support to us.
Peter Onegle

See the attached
Visit With Paul Anderson

and please see the attached Suba Biochar Farmers Group Report.

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Micheal Palace, May, 2011

Micheal Palace has been kind enough to share the attached poster with some of his initial work detecting Amazonian dark earths (called ABE in the poster) using satellite images from NASA's Hyperion spectrum scans of the Amazon region.

The team of scientists working on the technology have been correlating archeological evidence of the Dark Earths (ABE) and the Hyperion scans of the same areas to see if they can find a way to reliably use the scans to detect other areas of Amazonian Dark Earths. Ultimately, they'd like to use the Hyperion data to find the extent of the dark earths in the Amazon basin, and be able to provide archeologist with the statistical likelihood that there are actually ancient dark earths in the areas indicated by the scans.

University of New Hampshire has a nice write up of Micheal's work:
http://www.eos.unh.edu/Spheres_0610/palace.shtml

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Biochar can be chunky like torrified wood, but it can also be light and fluffy, and difficult to work into the soil without blowing all over the place. Simply adding water to it doesn't help, as it tends to float at the to of the water and that can make it even more difficult to work with.

The soils I work with tend to have a fair amount of clay in them, and I've found that mixing the dry, fluffy biochar with a relatively small amount of muddy clay helps binds the char into a more manageable muddy mix that you can then evenly mix with compost and your other soil components when either side dressing or building planting mix with char integrated in it.

Bartlett Tree Experts April, 2011

In Chicago, Bartlett Tree Experts are experimenting with applying biochar to benefit urban street trees. They have more detailed information in their company press release:
http://www.bartlett.com/tree-expert-news-details.cfm?id=72

From the picture it appears that they are drilling holes and side-dressing about 60 existing trees in the Wicker Park/Bucktown community. The application started this year and the study will continue for the next two years.

All trees were aerated with the same number of holes – no matter the treatment.

100% biochar was applied. This was applied by itself, in combination with fertilizer and a fertilizer only treatment was also applied. Control trees only were aerated and immediately backfilled with the soil from the hole. Biochar was applied at a rate of 1/8 pound dry weight per square foot surface area.

from their site:

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On the Practical Biology web site, there's a nicely done lesson plan that lays out how to do biochar, and biochar + compost tests with Broad Beans

Lesson plan link:

http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-biology/investigating-effects-biochar-soil-fertility

This lesson plan talks kids through laying out a plot test with proper controls and blending biochar.

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On the Practical Biology web site, there's a nicely done lesson plan that lays out how to do biochar, and biochar + compost tests with Broad Beans

Lesson plan link:

http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-biology/investigating-effects-biochar-soil-fertility

This lesson plan talks kids through laying out a plot test with proper controls and blending biochar.

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Kelpie Wilson, September, 2010

Read Kelpie's full trip report here: http://www.biochar-international.org/terra_preta_field_trip

After the conference, about 50 participants flew to Manaus and boarded the well-appointed riverboat, Helios Gabriel on Thursday evening September 16th, 2010. There were plenty of opportunities to carry on discussions begun at the conference.

The objective of the first day was to visit small farmers growing crops on Terra Preta sites at the Costa Naranjal, the

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David Yarrow, May 2010

Using Biochar in Soil

Preparation & Application

Biochar Preparation

Applying raw biochar to soil can inhibit plant growth one or two
years while microbes inhabit the char, form diversified, stable,
functional communities, and gather balanced mineral supplies.
Microbes also consume tar residues that inhibit water absorbtion.
Several weeks to a few months are needed to age char for
soil. Proper preparation can reduce this time to two weeks, and
reduce char volume needed for vigorous plant response. Four
simple steps assure rapid response, high yield and healthy plants.

Moisture

Biochar’s first service to soil is water digestion, retention and
slow release from its sponge-like micropore matrix. Char must
soak up water to be an effective substrate for microbial cultures
and mobilize minerals for ion exchange with plant roots. To
moisten char, hydrophobic residues must be broken down and
removed—a task done mostly by microbes.

Field Trials;
 I am field testing for the 09 corn season with JMU and consultation  Dr. Hepperly at Rodale Institute.

Ten research priorities were identified at the IBI conference, The following priorities I hope to address:
• 1- Economy research/market research
• 2- plant+soil research depending on biochar
• 5- field trials
• 8- application to soil (depending on agricultural or other
systems/remediation`)

Planting date: June 24th.
Two split plots , which each are split into a 20% (27 tons/Ac) & 5% (7 tons/Ac) application rates,
All chars soaked in tarps for 1 month, all chars were mixed 1:2 by volume with finished poultry litter compost and roto-tilled to 5 inch depth.

Gasifier Charcoal as a Substitute for Vermiculite in Container Growing Media
Tom Miles, August 22, 2009
P Pine Seedlings in 25% BiocharP Pine Seedlings in 25% Biochar
Our second trial of biochar as a substitute for vermiculite in container media for growing tree seedling has proved successful. These tests are by a private nursery to determine if charcoal from a gasifier heating system can be used in container growing media.

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Gasifier Charcoal as a Substitute for Vermiculite in Container Growing Media
Tom Miles, August 22, 2009
P Pine Seedlings in 25% BiocharP Pine Seedlings in 25% Biochar
Our second trial of biochar as a substitute for vermiculite in container media for growing tree seedling has proved successful. These tests are by a private nursery to determine if charcoal from a gasifier heating system can be used in container growing media.

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Charcoal and Carbon Storage in Forest Soils of the Rocky Mountain West
The Wilderness Society, October 2007

"Charcoal produced during wildfire events represents an important form of long-term Carbon storage in forest ecosystems. Forest management practices, such as salvage logging or thinning without prescribed fire, may reduce soil charcoal content and, thus, long-term Carbon storage in mineral soils.

Conclusions

Charcoal represents an important component of the soil organic matter pool in temperate grasslands and forests. It contributes to the total water-holding capacity, ion exchange complex, and surface area of the soil environment.

Once deposited in soil, charcoal is highly stable, having mean residence times 30

Biochar Trial Photos
Empty Planting Trays on Rack Fine Wet Processed Charcoal Settling in Flask Bamboo Feedstock Softwood Chip Feedstock
Empty Planting Trays on Rack Fine Wet Processed Charcoal Settling in Flask Bamboo Feedstock
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Bear Kaufmann. Initially posted April 7, 2008. Updated August 5, 2008.

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Bear Kaufmann. Initially posted April 7, 2008. Updated August 5, 2008.

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Bear Kaufmann. Initially posted April 7, 2008. Updated August 5, 2008.

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Gardening with Biochar FAQ (Wiki)
Philip Small, May 21, 2008

Welcome to a Gardening with Biochar FAQ!
... a work in progress...

When gardeners add biochar to garden soil, we are, in effect attempting to follow in the footsteps of the originators of Terra Preta. Because we don't know exactly how that process worked, nor how we can best adapt it outside its area of origin, we are left to discover much of this by experimenting with our own gardens and comparing observations within our own communities.

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Gardening with Biochar FAQ (Wiki)

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Charcoal in agriculture: Experimental research at Fourth Corner Nurseries
Richard Haard, Fourth Corner Nurseries, Bellingham, Washington, January 3, 2008

Greetings

I just finished over the last few days organizing images and data from my charcoal experimental plots. I am presenting a new set of posters showing root systems of the native shrub, Lonicera involucrata or black twinberry that I used as an experimental subject in these treatment plots this summer.

This will be the last of a series of piecemeal postings about my findings on the terrapreta reading list. In time, I will prepare a summary of what I have accomplished this year, the shortcomings, what I feel I have learned from this work about using charcoal and my plans for continuing this experiment for 2 or more growing seasons.

Agronomic values of greenwaste biochar as a soil amendment
K. Y. Chan, L. Van Zwieten, I. Meszaros, A. Downie,and S. Joseph
Australian Journal of Soil Research 45(8) 629

Article > Contents Vol 45(8)

Agronomic values of greenwaste biochar as a soil amendment

K. Y. Chan A E, L. Van Zwieten B, I. Meszaros A, A. Downie C D, S. Joseph D

A NSW Department of Primary Industries, Locked Bag 4, Richmond, NSW 2753, Australia.
B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar, NSW 2477, Australia.
C Best Energies P/L, Somersby, NSW 2250, Australia.
D University of New South Wales, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
E Corresponding author. Email: yin.chan@dpi.nsw.gov.au

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Soil Research 45(8) 629–634 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR07109
Submitted: 27 July 2007 Accepted: 2 November 2007 Published online: 7 December 2007

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Biochar Trials at Fourth Corner Nursery
Richard Haard, Fourth Corner Nursery, Bellingham, WA, December 6, 2007
Hello All - For your interest

I submitted to Tom for posting [attached] some initial soil analysis data from my charcoal block study. In am just beginning to compile a report on this work. When it is posted you will see soil analysis results averaged for each replication(2) for 2 dates , April and October. Listed are pH, Buffer pH, OM, Nitrate, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and base exchange components, % Potassium, % Magnesium, % Calcium. Other soil analysis was taken but not presented here.

Keep in mind this is a 2 to 3 year study and no additional additions or treatments will be done other than continuous cropping and harvest of all growth, tops and roots, at our bare-root native plant nursery. It is my attempt to emulate Christoph Steiner, et al research in Manaus

Long term Effects of manure, charcoal and mineral fertilization on crop production and fertility on a highly weathered Central Amazonian upland soil

http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/442

POTENTIAL FOR PYROLYSIS CHAR TO AFFECT SOIL MOISTURE AND NUTRIENT STATUS OF A LOAMY SAND SOIL
J.W. Gaskin, Adam Speir, L.M. Morris, Lee Ogden, Keith Harris, D. Lee, and K.C Das, Proceedings of the 2007 Georgia Water Resources Conference, held March 27

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Alkaline Soils - Terra Preta
N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, e-alkalinesoilsterrapreta.blogspot.com Update June 26, 2007
[img_assist|nid=383|title=Alkaline Soil, India|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=200|height=146]

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