Friday 27 July 2012

Rubber wood industry research on Biochar from Sri Lanka

Included in the July IBI newsletter ...

"... However, Rubber research Institute of Sri Lanka (RRISL) pioneered systematic scientific research on biochar in Sri Lanka. Scientists at RRISL initiated few experiments in 2009 by producing biochar from firewood used in raw rubber manufacturing factories and applying them into rubber nurseries and field plants. They have found that biochar improves the fertility of rubber growing soil, reduce fertilizer usage, reduce leaching losses of plant nutrients and improve the growth of the rubber plants. They also produced biochar from several organic materials available in and around rubber plantations. In addition to this, scientists in the Dept. of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Peradeniya has produced a slow release urea fertilizer using biochar. In this year several institutions in Sri Lanka have initiated small scale experiments to investigate the effect of different types of biochar on soil quality, crop growth and yield, stability of biochar carbon in soil. The outcome of these studies will be known in the coming years. ..."

Saturday 21 July 2012

More reports on biochar research in SEA from IBI

IBI have profiled on their website, work being led from Norway that includes collaborations with researchers in SEA...

Profile: Biochar Field Trials in Zambia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal as well as New Biochar Characterization Research from a Team in Norway

"Field trial work in Indonesia began in January 2012 with several sites set up in collaboration with the Indonesian Soil Research Institute and UN Development Program. They are based in Sumatra (acid ultisol; corn, dry and wet rice), Kalimantan (acid sulphate soil; wet rice), West-Timor (alfisol; corn), and Sulawesi (sandy, acid soil; corn and cacao).

In June 2012, the team will establish field trials in Malaysia on degraded sandy soils using biochar produced from rice husk. Rice husk is one of the main waste biomass materials in the area and it will be produced at local rice mills (where the pyrolysis heat is used for drying the raw rice) and then compared to a material produced in a more controlled system based on the Belonio stove (a different stove model). The Malaysian partners include the University of Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian Agricultural Institute (MARDI). The university of Kuala Lumpur has experience with producing biochar and possesses small scale equipment including a biochar experimental kit (BEK) which can produce a “designer biochar”.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Application of char products improves urban soil quality

Dr Subhadip Ghosh, researcher from Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology of National Parks Board, Singapore has conducted a research on using local char materials for urban soil management. Following is the abstract of the paper published in ‘Soil Use and Management’. This paper reports on the 1st phase of biochar related research from Singapore. Phase 2, utilising Black Earth biochar imported from Australia, is also completed and further larger scale research plans are in place.
Urban soils are a key component of the urban ecosystem but little research has considered their quality and management. The use of char or partially combusted char products as a soil amendment is becoming popular worldwide because of perceived benefits to fertility and the potential for increasing carbon sequestration. In this study, we assessed the effect of applying coarse and fine char material on the quality of four different types of soil-based root-zone mixes typically used for turfgrass and general landscaping in Singapore: clay loam soil, approved soil mix (ASM, 3 soil:2 compost:1 sand), 50:50 (sand ⁄ soil) and 75:25 (sand ⁄ soil). Char briquettes made from sawdust were mixed thoroughly at rates of 25, 50 and 75% by volume with the soil mixes. Results showed that addition of char (both coarse and fine) significantly enhanced the carbon content of the mixes, with the largest increase being associated with the 50% and 75% additions. Soil nutrients (total N, extractable P, K, Ca and Mg) and mean weight diameter of aggregates were also significantly increased following the application of char. The clay loam and the 50:50 and 75:25 soil mixes were more responsive to the addition of char than was ASM."

S. Ghosh, D.Yeo, B.Wilson & L.F.Ow
1 Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, National Parks Board, Singapore 259569, Singapore,
2 School of Environmental and Rural Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia,
3 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117543, Singapore, and
4 Office of Environment and Heritage, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia

Soil Use and Management (In Press). doi: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2012.00416.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Do Anthropogenic Dark Earths Occur in the Interior of Borneo? Some Initial Observations from East Kalimantan

Two new articles covering a new publication on ADE in Kalimantan, dug up by Erich Knight...
"Tiem, Punyuh & Tanah Hitam ; It's all TP to me, but Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADEs) are popping up all over.
As I reported May 15, about new TP soils in Borneo, (below), now we have new find in Malinau [East Kalimantan]
Charred lands: fertile grounds for sustainable agriculture in Kalimantan?

TP in Asia,... Indonesian Anthropogenic Black Earth; Now along the lines of the African traditions of  both the African Ankara system and Batibo technique and no dough more akin to the Malaysian char practice Malay tanah hitam (black soil), we have Borneo Black Soils;
Terra preta found in Asia

"Abstract: Anthropogenic soils of the Amazon Basin (Terra Preta, Terra Mulata) reveal that pre-Colombian peoples made lasting improvements in the agricultural potential of nutrient-poor soils. Some have argued that applying similar techniques could improve  agriculture over much of the humid tropics, enhancing local livelihoods and food security, while also sequestering large quantities of carbon to mitigate climate change. Here, we present preliminary evidence for Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADEs) in tropical Asia. Our surveys in East Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) identified several sites where soils possess an anthropogenic development and context similar in several respects to the Amazon’s ADEs. Similarities include riverside locations, presence of useful fruit trees, spatial extent as well as soil characteristics such as dark color, high carbon content (in some cases), high phosphorus levels, and improved apparent fertility in comparison to neighboring soils.  Local people value these soils for cultivation but are unaware of their origins. We discuss these soils in the context of local history and land-use and identify numerous unknowns. Incomplete biomass burning appears key to these modified soils. More study is required to clarify soil transformations in Borneo and to determine under what circumstances such soil improvements might remain ongoing."