Friday, 29 April 2016

Thinking big about haze in Thailand

Michael Shafer, director of the Warm Heart Foundation offers some thoughtful comments on Thailand's version of the regional haze issue. I cut the following comments related to biochar from the article published by 'The Nation' newspaper. The full article is available here.

CP are The Charoen Pokphand Group

"...What might such a solution look like?

The problem is hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste corn stalk that farmers have no option but to burn in order to clear their fields for the next crop. CP can teach farmers how to turn their corn stalk into a valuable product: biochar. Biochar, a pure form of charcoal, is made using a process called "pyrolysis" that produces no smoke, no black carbon, and virtually no greenhouse gases. The production of biochar is also carbon-negative, meaning that it removes CO2 from the atmosphere, reversing global warming.

To encourage farmers to make biochar, CP can include the purchase of the biochar made from contract corn stalks in the same contracts as for the purchase of corn kernel.

CP also owns large pig farms where it has manure management problems. Biochar is an excellent absorbent, capable of absorbing huge quantities of pig urine. It also dramatically reduces smells by adsorbing the ammonia and other noxious gases produced by pig urine and manure that make it smell so foul. Conveniently, mixing biochar with pig urine and manure creates a very effective organic fertiliser.

At the start of a growing season CP can distribute the biochar fertiliser to farmers in lieu of distributing synthetic fertiliser as they often do now. The reduction in synthetic fertiliser costs will fund biochar purchases, while the biochar fertiliser will improve farmers' soils and yields because it provides many more benefits than synthetics, including the capacity to retain water. Biochar fertilisers have the added benefit that biochar "locks up" pesticides in the soil. This reduces the risk of toxins entering the food chain and reduces the amount of toxic run-off from fields.

Taking such a "life-cycle" approach - from field waste and manure to fertiliser and feed - CP joins the ranks of a corporate elite, companies that make environmental sustainability part of the way they do business, and distinguishes itself from the majority of companies that talk about the environment without making it part of business operations. Such public relations is literally priceless, because it cannot be bought, but will serve CP well as it deals with consumer pressure groups in Europe.

If CP offers such a solution to the "corn crisis", it secures all five of the values we seek to protect. Farmers continue to get corn contracts and now get contracts for biochar made from their corn waste. Public health improves because every tonne of corn waste that is "pyrolysed" keeps six kilograms of smoke from being released into the air. The economy of the North gets a boost because the poor have more money in their pockets which, being poor, they spend immediately. The Thai economy can continue to grow as consumers do not face higher meat prices, chicken exports do not fall, and thousands of jobs and billions of baht of economic activity do not move to Myanmar. Thailand sharply reduces its national carbon footprint as the reduction in field burning cuts black carbon releases and the rise in biochar production cuts GHG emissions and sequesters three tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of biochar produced.

Michael Shafer is director of the Warm Heart Foundation based in A Phrao, Chiang Mai.

There is a overlapping story here for the annual haze issues emanating from forestry and plantation activity in Indonesia (some of it controlled by Malaysian & Singaporean interests). Check out 13 previous posts on the haze issue and its solutions here.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mine tailing land restoration

How compost and cattle are restoring Coal Basin

This article may provide guidance on restoring damaged mining areas in our region.

Orion Magazine | Dirt First

Orion Magazine | Dirt First: Nurturing the busy life of soil is both a key to sustainable food production and a tool to turn back climate change.

This is a great read if you are into soil... not a comfortable read if you are a chemical farming advocate.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Pro-Natura newsletter
This Newsletter includes a table that lists 6 scientific publications on biochar impact on tropical crops in SEA region. Crops covered rice, cabbage, peanuts and cassava.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

More media coverage on WarmHeart Haze solution

Biochar: a profitable solution to Thailand’s haze problem

... "Why not develop a solution to the haze problem that turns waste corn stalks into a valuable product?

This is what Theerasak Charassrivisist, director of the Chiang Mai Provincial Energy Office, is doing. Theerasak is teaching farmers how to turn their corn stalk and corncob into "biochar" - a pure form of charcoal - using do-it-yourself technology. "Pyrolysed" corn waste produces no smoke, no particulates, almost no greenhouse gases and actually removes CO2 from the atmosphere." ...

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Warm Heart shows a new way forward on haze issues

Could this be a pointer to wider solutions for haze in Indonesia? When plantations and commercial agriculture recognize the value the carbon in waste biomass then we may have found an economic, social and environmentally acceptable solution.

Some earlier posts on this...

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Version 2.0 of TLUD history

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul Anderson [biochar]
Date: 18 February 2016 at 14:39
Subject: [biochar] Version 2.0 of TLUD history is available
To: Stoves and biofuels network , ""

Dear all who are interested in TLUD stoves or their ability to make char,

The History of TLUD stoves documentation has been expanded and released as Version 2.0. The document now has over 30 photos / figures, and a much expanded bibliography. Be sure to see the Box (Figure 22 on page 22) that defines and names 24 "TLUD Pyroneers".

It is lengthy at 38 pages so that the historical details are well recorded for future generations. You can pick and choose the historical periods of interest, but do be sure to at least skim quickly the beginning and concluding pages that have comments on the current and future prospects for TLUD micro-gasification.

This link will always take you to the most recent version of the document. (earlier versions are still available at the Dr TLUD website with specific addresses).

-- Doc / Dr TLUD / Prof. Paul S. Anderson, PhD Email: Skype: paultlud Phone: +1-309-452-7072 Website:

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Palm oil sustainability prioritisation survey (ARPOS)

I'm engaged with ARPOS on getting biochar into their, and the palm oil industry sustainability agenda. The email text below from Dr Rory Padfield is self-explanatory. Biochar and biochar related issues are included in the survey...

"Dear ARPOS members,

As some of you will be aware a project was launched last year to identify priority research questions for the study of palm oil sustainability. Following an initial workshop to establish the broad research themes (13 in total) held at the Corus Hotel in March 2015, a series of stakeholder engagement activities and an on-line survey resulted in 185 individual research questions submitted by stakeholders. Many of you kindly submitted your questions and also forwarded the survey to your palm oil networks.

We are now in the final stage of the research project where these 185 questions will be prioritized by palm oil stakeholders. This final stage is important since it will help us understand where we should be focusing our research efforts (activities, funding, academic debate, etc) to achieve palm oil sustainability. Furthermore, the result of this survey will help set the basis for ARPOS' 1st Research Strategy document. This will be presented at the ARPOS AGM in April 2016.

Thus, I wish to request your kind assistance to help with the following:

1) Please spend a few minutes to fill out the on-line survey yourself. The link is below.

2) Please circulate the survey (or this email) to your respective networks and/or individual contacts who may be interested to participate in the survey. Please note that this survey presents an opportunity for palm oil stakeholders to influence the direction of future research into palm oil sustainability.

On-line survey link:

Many thanks for your cooperation.

Best wishes,

Friday, 12 February 2016

3rd Asia-Pacific Biochar Conference, 19-23 October

Biochar research compilation from Indonesia and IRRI

Biochar research started almost 20 years ago and there are already accumulated research outputs from various research groups from many areas, including improving soil health and plant productivity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are limited studies on the application of biochar in agriculture. Thus, there is a need to identify research gaps on technology development to maximize the potential of this promising agricultural material.

Along this line, the national workshop on Biochar for Food Security: Learning from Experiences and Identifying Research Priorities was held in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia on February 4 and 5, 2013. In this workshop, there were 15 presentations made of studies carried out from various fields from different organizations and 11 papers are published through this limited proceedings.

The first paper provides a summary of biochar research in the world, including its history and findings on various functions of biochar. The next paper focuses on the constraints to biochar production and presents a method of converting smoke into wood vinegar, which has a significant role in crop protection. There are two papers on the function of biochar and its effect on the physical and chemical properties of the soil and three more papers that show that the yield of some crops like maize and rice were improved by biochar. There are also three more papers that focus on the environmental benefits of biochar application such as mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and remediation of polluted soils caused by chemical compounds from pesticides. The last paper presents an economic evaluation of biochar application in the agroforestry-agriculture combined system and shows that biochar application improved farmers’ income despite the cost increase.

The papers presented in this document cover a wide range of biochar research areas in Indonesia, which shows promising prospects for sustainable agricultural production and better livelihood. It is hoped that this limited proceedings will contribute to future agricultural research on technology development in Indonesia.

Keiichi Hayashi
Project Coordinator/Soil Scientist, IRRI-Japan Collaborative Research Project on Climate Change Adaptation in Rainfed Rice Areas (CCARA), IRRI
Martin Gummert
Senior Scientist, Postharvest Development, IRRI
Dr. Zulkifli Zaini
IRRI Representative and Liaison Scientist, IRRI-Indonesia Office

The role of  biochar and prospects for its use in rice production in Southeast Asia (Keiichi Hayashi)

Biochar for forestry and agricultural production (Gustan Pari, Han Roliadi, and Sri Komarayat)

Application of biochar produces changes in some soil properties (Ainin Niswati)

Changes in water retention, water use efficiency, and aggregate stability of sandy soils following biochar application (Sukartono, W.H.Utomo, W.H. Nugroho, and Suwardji)

Evaluating the effects of biochar on N absorption and N use efficiency in maize (Widowati, W.H. Utomo, B. Guritno, and L.A. Soehono)

Nitrogen fertilizer requirement of maize (Zea maysL.) on biochar-treated soil (Wani Hadi Utomo and Titiek Islami)

Use of biochar to improve soil characteristics and increase rice yield in swamplands (D. Nursyamsi, E. Maftuah, I. Khairullah, and Mukhlis)

Gas emissions from the production and use of biochar in the peatland of Kalimantan (Abdul Hadi, Abdul Ghofur, Annisa Farida, Triharyo Subekti, and Dedi Nursyamsi)

Evaluation of the effects of activated carbon on POP insecticide residues in mustard in Central Java, Indonesia (Elisabeth Srihayu Harsanti, Asep Nugraha Ardiwinata, Sri Wahyuni, and Dedi Nursyamsi)

The role and use of activated carbon in the agriculture sector to control insecticide residues (Asep Nugraha Ardiwinata and Elisabeth Srihayu Harsanti)

Economic analysis of biochar application in agroforestry systems (Rachman Effendi)