Monday, 8 December 2014

Symphony of the Soil

"The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the International Year of the Soils (IYS) 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

To help celebrate the International Year of the Soils, we will be streaming the full feature film, Symphony of the Soil, for FREE for the week of December 5 – 12, 2014. You can help us spread the word by linking to or embedding the film on your site with a link to the Symphony of the Soil website and to the International Year of the Soils."


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Bandar Utama - a history of biochar application in Malaysia

The link below is to an article that has been submitted to IBI for publication in their monthly newsletter.
I am hoping it will appear in the December issue.

The link is to a google document. Please let me know if you are not able to access... I can send as a PDF.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Biochar animations from Europe

A couple of new 3min. animations on biochar from ...
which I had not heard of and appears to be a European Development Agency initiative.
Its a pity they don't delve a little deeper into productions methods. The animation implies flash pyrolysis production is THE method of production... a bit misleading IMO. They do cover some of the new ideas for biochar applications such as animal feeds and building materials.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

News from UniKL MICET biochar group

The following announcement has been provided by Prof. Robert Bachmann for the November IBI newsletter:

At present two undergraduate students under the supervision of Dr Amelia Md Som (
investigate the effect of biochar on phytoremediation of soils contaminated with Cu, Ni, Pb  and  Zn by Helianthus annuus L, while another student, Ms Syila investigates the possibility of using the original Belonio rice husk gasifier for empty fruit bunch. This project is under the supervision of Mdm Asimi Ana Ahmad.
MICET also welcomed two visiting students from Wismar University / Germany, Mr Kevin Busack and Lukas Sievert, who are both recipients of the DAAD RISE Worldwide scholarship ( Kevin has been given the task to develop a standard operating procedure for APL's biochar experimenter kit (BEK), produce and characterise biochar from oil palm biomass under various process conditions and determine the emission factors for various gases. His project is carried out in collaboration with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). Lukas' challenge is to improve the upscaled Belonio rice husk gasifier developed by Dr Nsamba Hussein Kisiki in terms of ease of use as well as utilisation of the syngas produced.


Group website:

Program Coordinator (MGEEB)
78000 Alor Gajah

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Biochar training course & conference, Nanjing

“Following the success of the first and the second Biochar Training Course, The Biochar and Green Agriculture Center of Nanjing Agriculture University in collaboration with the University of Newcastle and University of NSW of Australia is announcing a third course to be held starting 16th April 2015. China now leads the world in the commercial production of both biochar and biochar technology. It has pioneered the development of combine NPK biochar granulated fertilizers.”
You can find details from this link to the course announcement and conference program.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sydney biochar workshop - 10 December

International Perspectives on Biochar Research and Application
"Leading experts from Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Thailand, UK and USA will discuss biochar applications in different systems. It is a great opportunity to learn about the current biochar research and applications. ..."

This 1-day workshop has some tropical soils and SEA content Co/ ...

  • Gerard Cornelissen, Norway. Environmental and socio-economic impacts of the adoption of biochar technology in developing countries
  • Nattaporn Prakongkep , Thai Department of Agriculture, and Bob Gilkes, The University of Western Australia Opportunities for fruit waste biochars in organic agriculture in the tropics
Check out the details here.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Urban biochar project model

Coming to a city near you in SEA soon (hopefully)...

Stockholm, Sweden: Biochar – for a Better City Ecosystem
"Stockholm, like many global cities, is confronting the effects of climate change. Stockholm will create a citywide program that activates citizens as front-line change agents to curb this escalating problem. Together, the city and its residents will produce biochar, an organic substance that increases tree growth, sequesters carbon, and purifies storm water runoff. Citizens will bring their green waste to locations across the city for conversion to biochar and, ultimately, redistribution."

Sunday, 7 September 2014

the Biochar Journal

Ithaka Institute have been busy. Here is a link to a new biochar journal that is in beta test mode this month. Hans-Peter has pulled together a great team of experts from around the world. Check out the list of existing and planned articles. It launches with an article by Kathleen Draper on biochar paper… exciting stuff.

My previous report on some of their work can be seen here...

I have not reported here on my recent visit to the Ithaka Institute and a commercial operation in Switzerland as these focused mainly on temperate climate agriculture. But do get in touch if you are interested. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

New biochar related article from Paul Olivier in Vietnam

Biochar is frequently discussed in this broad ranging, entertaining and enlightening article.

An Unconventional Way Of Raising Pigs, Chickens and Cows

Four levels of waste transformation are adapted and applied to the raising of pigs, chickens and cows. Farmers ferment waste into feed (Level 1). They feed fecal matter to the larvae of the black soldier fly, they feed larval residue to red worms, and they fertilize their crops primarily with vermicompost (Level 2). They house pigs, chickens and cows on a soft mesophilic bedding (Level 3) sprayed each day with probiotic liquids. They add biochar from top-lit, updraft gasifiers to the fermented feed and to the bedding, and they use syngas for household cooking (Level 4). The bedding has no odor. There are no flies. At no point in their lives are antibiotics or any other pharmaceuticals administered to pigs, chickens and cows raised in this unconventional way. Just about all of the behavioral and physiological needs of animals and poultry are met. Instead of inhumane confinement or free-range, we propose a third way: confinement in a clean, spacious and odorless setting that accords comfort and dignity to animals. High levels of productivity are achieved, not by means by over-crowding, antibiotics, growth hormones or chemical fertilizers - but by lining up multiple, interdependent waste transformation cycles that all reduce cost and generate income. These waste transformation technologies can even be extended to include the recycling of bone, human waste and biodegradable household waste. Through the wise and efficient transformation of waste, farmers buy nothing from feed, fertilizer, pharmaceutical, and fuel companies. Strong and self-reliant, farmers no longer depend on the fragile infrastructure of global trade. Large international corporations that enslave small farmers through the sale of unsustainable inputs are shut out, along with traders peddling cheap subsidized products that devastate local economies. In this way a lot more jobs are created and a lot more money is made at the local level. The social upheaval caused by the migration of young people to large cities is eliminated. Poor people, especially poor women, are empowered as never before. Food production increases. Food security, along with national security, is enhanced. Trade figures improve. Human health is not endangered. The environment does not suffer. And neither do pigs, chickens and cows.

Dr. Paul A. Olivier and Dr. Nguyen Van Ket and Todd Hyman
Empowering the Poor Through Waste Transformation

Paul Olivier's work in Vietnam with TLUD stoves has been covered previously in this website...
10 Aug 2013
Dr Paul Olivier visits Malaysia - regional TLUD development. The following comments are Co/ Dr Paul Olivier, cut from a recent post to the "Improved Biomass Cooking Stoves" discussion list (you may need to sign up to ...

04 Mar 2012
If you are interested in biomass stoves (TLUD) or the multiple applications for small scale biomass gasification then I highly recommend a review of Dr Paul Olivier's work in Vietnam with rice husk biomass. His 10 page report ...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

BiocharCulture - a new book

Dr Reddy has just released a new book on biochar which is freely available via as a PDF file from a web download. The author...
"My latest Book title "Biocharculture - Biochar for Environment and Development" Published by MetaMeta, Netherlands. It took two years to write covering a decade of my endeavour with biochar. I am thankful to all the members in the e-groups for the valuable insights, thanks also to the communities / farmers. This book is declared as open Knowledge.. Available online the links are or or Thanks to MetaMeta for publishing and all the support."

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy

Click here to download book
"Here is a question often asked with great concern: can agriculture meet the challenges of an expanding world and a global economy that is moving more to ‘middle income’? The projections by the Food and Agricultural Organization for instance are that by 2050 the demand for food and fibres - compared with 2005 - will have expanded by 60% respectively 81%. Is this a challenge that is too hard to meet?

A recent comprehensive review of co-optimizing solution for food, water and energy by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development1 found that we still have many cooptimizing options in hand, but it also means that we need to rejuvenate the way farming is done. Agriculture needs to be more precise. It needs to be better integrated in the landscapes that it is part of and it should be supporting rather than substituting natural processes.

It is in this regard that I am very happy to introduce this book on Biocharculture and also to acknowledge its unfailing energetic author, Sai Bhaskar Reddy. We are happy that much of his overall insights and first hand experiences have become available through this book.

Biocharculture falls very much in a vision of an agriculture that supports and makes use of natural growing mechanism. Biochar is charcoal that is used for other purposes than heating. It can be a byproduct or part of an entire production system. 

Biochar scores on many fronts: it improves the capacity of the soil to retain moisture but also nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. It helps regulate soil temperature and contribute to climate change mitigation. It improves soil life. I still remember that Sai Bhaskar explained a tiny piece of charcoal to me as being a ‘skyscraper for millions of soil biota’. There is still a world to gain – by better understanding this miraculous microbial world and the way our soils and landscapes work and this book hopes to contribute and give practical suggestions and directions. Interesting in some parts of the world biochar is part of the production process where in other it is not. In other words we need to create new traditions and farming cultures, as this book very much argues."
Frank van Steenbergen
Director, MetaMeta

Dr Reddy also published a book on cooking stoves which is also available for download from:
Understanding Stoves (pdf)  and flash book
S. B. Nakka Reddy, 2012