Sunday, 19 December 2010

Rejuvenation of tea plantations - Dilmah biochar trials in Sri Lanka

Dilmah Conservation has biochar related research activity under way in existing plantations and nurseries in two agro climatic zones in Sri Lanka. Dr. Krishnaratne, a consultant for Dilmah Conservation, is managing the Bio-Remediation Programme. Photos have been provided by Asanka Abayakoon, Manager, Dilmah Conservation. Hopefully, more details on their current work can be provided for the January IBI newsletter.

"After centuries of monoculture Sri Lanka’s famous tea country lost its top soil due to unsustainable agricultural practices which has lead to high production costs. Dilmah Conservation will facilitate trials and eventually introduce bio remediation technology to sustain the tea plantations. Bio- char, Aerated Compost tea, will be some of the methods that will be tested. Bio-remediation will improve the soil condition in a natural manner without the use of chemicals. Bio- Char is one of the products that will be used in this process. The first pilot test is being conducted at Houpe estate. The project will mainly focus on developing sustainable agriculture practices island- wide. Also Dilmah Conservation will encourage University students and other researchers to conduct their studies related to the environment in this area."

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Biochar research collaborations in Indonesia

Prof. Agus Prasetya and Prof. Moh. Fahrurrozi from the chemical engineering department at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Java are seeking collaboration partners for biochar research projects in Indonesia. Their research interests are broad, including all aspects of biochar production, renewable energy, stove project implementation, carbon sequestration, agriculture utilization and rural development. They will be working with Eko Sb Setyawa from Chemmeco Inc. who would welcome your further inquiry (

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) is the oldest and the largest state university in Indonesia. It was founded on December 19, 1949 and currently has 18 faculties, 69 undergraduate programs, 24 diploma programs and a Graduate School. Since December 2000, the university has taken a new status as a state-owned legal entity. The University is located in The Special Region of Yogyakarta, one of the smallest provinces in the country, which has been widely known as the center of Javanese culture as well as the center of learning. It has 3,200,000 inhabitants, 511,000 of whom reside in the city of Yogyakarta.

UBI projects in SEA

I will be including the following report prepared by Dr Karl Frogner for the December IBI newsletter...

UBI is currently involved in developing an experimental/extension farm and a pilot project in Thailand. They have funding proposals submitted for 5 additional pilot projects for other distinct culture/ecotypes in Thailand and additional pilot projects in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. UBI are interested in making contact with those interested in working with the UBI concept in other culture/ecotype situations, particularly Malaysia (the shifting cut and burn agriculturists of Sarawak, and others) and the various culture/ecotypes of Indonesia. They are especially interested in working with planned or ongoing rural development projects that wish to include biochar in their projects, but are also willing to work with individuals interested in developing projects focusing biochar within the broader UBI concept.

Karl J. Frogner, PhD, OZP
President & Project Development Head; UB International (UBI)
Project Development Head; Mongolian Biochar Initiative (MoBI)
Project Development Consultant; Thai Biochar Initiative (ThBI) 
Member, Advisory Committee, International Biochar Initiative (IBI)
President, Mu I
47-481 Ho'opala St.,
Kane'ohe HI 96744 USA
Hawaii: 1-808 234-3486
Ulaanbaatar: 976 9600-3688
Bangkok: 085 328-3731

Biochar project proposals

One of the original requirements of the Yunnan Biochar study for FAO was the preparation of at least two biochar project proposals. As the study progressed, it became apparent that a broader approach was needed to represent the many, varied project opportunities that were ready for funding or under development. A total of nine project proposals have been submitted to FAO as part of the study...
  1. Biochar Soil Trials in Cambodia - Testing an Optimization Tool for the Integration of Biochar into the Farming Energy System (UKBRC) 
  2. Field Demonstration of Fast Pyrolysis Biochars (Black is Green Pty Ltd)
  3. Solid biofuel for cooking purposes and biochar production in low-income households (UniKL MICET)
  4. Cookstove Implementation in China and Cambodia - Who would Use Gasification Cook Stoves?: A Trial Deployment in China and Cambodia
  5. Biochar and Rural Development in Thailand - Biochar as a Soil Amendment in Sustainable Rural Development in Thai Environments and Sub-cultures: Increased Crop Production for Smallholders through the Low Tech Production and Use of Biochar from Thinly Distributed Feedstock (Thai Biochar Initiative & UBI)
  6. Producing Biochar to Reduce GHG Emissions from Hydropower Projects and Improve Village Livelihood: Lao PDR Case Study (Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand)
  7. Phosphorus and Biochar Research in Malaysia - Biochar in Tropical Soils: Elucidating the Effects of Amendment Types on Fertilizer Phosphorus Dynamics, Soil Carbon Emission and Sequestration around the Kinabantangan River Area of Sabah, Malaysia (School of Sustainable Agriculture, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia)
  8. Industrial Demonstration of Biochar in Yunnan: Industrialization and Agricultural Application of Biochar from Crop Residues and Animal Manures in Yunnan Province
  9. Biochar from Natural and Planted Forest Residues in Yunnan: Proposal for Demonstration Project to Make Biochar from the Residues of Forest Products Processing.

It may take some time for FAO to digest all of these proposals and it may not be realistic to expect immediate funding. The project proposals are open to collaboration and support from other parties. To this end, please contact me if you are interested in receiving more information on any of the above project proposals. I will liaise with FAO regarding any participation on their part.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Another new biochar book - The Biochar Revolution

Kelpie Wilson, author, journalist and IBI Communications Editor has this to say about The Biochar Revolution

Review: The Biochar Revolution: Transforming Agriculture and Environment, ed. Paul Taylor

I want to call this book: "Biochar, the Missing Manual." This compendium of practical how-to articles on the art and science of biochar bridges the current gap between research and implementation of biochar systems. While basic research on the mechanisms of biochar-soil interactions proceeds at research institutions around the globe, farmers, blacksmiths, colliers and crafty inventors of all sorts have jumped into the business of biochar production and utilization. The Biochar Revolution collects the results and best practical advice that these entrepreneurs have to offer to the biochar community.

In the book you will read about the challenges of designing low-emissions biochar production systems from small-scale stoves to farm-scale pyrolyzers. Another section of the book is devoted to explaining simple tests to characterize biochar and methods for conducting valid field trials. Biochar producers show how they add minerals and nutrients to maximize the effectiveness of biochar, and seasoned biochar business operators share the rudiments of their business plans including information on feedstocks, flow rates and financing.

Because biochar is rooted in an ancient, proven practice, farmers feel empowered to experiment and are beginning to accumulate and document their results. But because biochar is new to science, it is not always possible to account for these results in a predictable fashion.  We are fortunate to have a vibrant, grassroots movement of biochar practitioners who are so generous in sharing their results with us. When practice and theory advance to the point where they meet in the middle, then we will truly see a biochar revolution.

-Kelpie Wilson, author, journalist and IBI Communications Editor  

Saturday, 11 December 2010

WorldStove 5-step program

Check out this WorldStove project model, developed around their activities in Africa. It would be nice to see this transposed into SEA setting.  Particularly where a local charcoal for fuel industry is having negative affects on the natural forest...
Summary of the Five Step Plan:
Step 1. Local group wanting this Stove Hub provides building, and personnel, WorldStove provides 3 Biucci and 30 Beaner stoves plus a small briquette press.
Step 2. Once the Stove Hub has demonstrated availability of all materials necessary to complete construction of 500 stoves, WorldStove will arrange for the first 500 critical components, necessary tools and a small pellet press to kick start the program.
Step 3. Before a large press (600kg per hour) is provided, the Stove Hub must demonstrate orders for stoves or fuel or having established a reliable demand for stoves.
Step 4. If they demonstrate that they are measuring, evaluating, and storing char, then Stove Hub can enter the carbon credit program.
Step 5: Once Stove Hub has collected 5 tons of char, WorldStove will help the Stove Hub develop aforestation and soil restoration programs.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Road to sustainable palm oil fraught with challenges

Jakarta, December 5 – Many of Asia’s major palm oil players have reaffirmed their commitment to improve sustainability standards in the palm oil industry. But key players also say there are many obstacles ahead – and some are expanding into Africa to take advantage of what could prove a much more lucrative market.

New article at

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Workshop Cambodia: Report from Sarah Carter

Workshop on Biochar Production & Uses
Monday 22nd – Tuesday 23rd November 2010
The workshop was a huge success, with 29 delegates attending the meeting, and 19 staying for the field trip the second day.

Biochar: Production & Use, Cambodia 22.11.2010. Picture by Vichida Tan
The workshop report is now available, and presentations can be downloaded below.
This meeting discussed the current state of biochar production and use in Cambodia, and explored the potential for development of new technologies – both large and small scale, with a particular focus on gasification cook stoves. Issues for consideration to policy makers, and prototype guidelines for sustainable biochar deployment as an agricultural soil amendment were also discussed.
Biochar is the result of thermally treating biomass (including wood, agricultural residues, paper sludge) in a zero to low oxygen environment to produce a charcoal type material.
This meeting is part of the ‘Enabling Bio-innovations for Poverty Alleviation in Asia Project’, funded through IDRC-CRDI (