Saturday, 20 April 2013

Philippine Biochar Association (PBiA) in the news

Pro-biochar group supports government's efforts to achieve sufficiency in rice (link)

"THE Philippine Biochar Association (PBiA) is keen on backing government initiatives to attain rice sufficiency, achieve food security and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. The PBiA expressed its support during the first national conference on biochar initiatives in the country at the Philippine Social Science Center on Tuesday. In his address, Philip Camara, PBiA founding member and a member of the lead advisory council, said what the country needs to do is to try removing carbon dioxide (C02) from the atmosphere and not just rely on neutrality or mitigation. “The biochar technology can help us do that,” he added. Biochar, now practiced by some farmers in Zambales province’s Botolan town, is charred biomass usually produced from agricultural and forestry organic waste material like rice hull, straw, corn stover, coconut husks, tree branches and fallen trees by applying heat with very limited oxygen to the biomass. The process releases synthesis gases or syngases that can be harnessed for renewable energy and leaves behind charcoal. The PBiA said biochar is intended for use in farm soils while charcoal is for cooking.

Biochar is also being supported by international leaders. Former US Vice President Al Gore said biochar is one of the newest and most exciting strategies for restoring carbon in depleted soils and sequestering significant amounts of CO2 for 1,000 years. Dr. Bernardo Tadeo, member of the PBiA board of trustees, said many farmers are now testing the use of biochar, with some reporting higher farm yields. During the two-day conference, attendees discussed organic farming, climate-change adaptation and mitigation, local biochar network and the integration of biochar into companies’ corporate social responsibility programs."

Friday, 12 April 2013

Biochar and conservation farming: results from tropical Africa

Biochar effect on maize yield and soil characteristics in five conservation farming sites in Zambia
"Biochar addition to agricultural soils can improve soil fertility, with the added bonus of climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration. Conservation farming (CF) is precision farming, often combining minimum tillage, crop rotation and residue retention. In the present farmer-led field trials carried out in Zambia, the use of a low dosage biochar combined with CF minimum tillage was tested as a way to increase crop yields. Using CF minimum tillage allows the biochar to be applied to the area where most of the plant roots are present and mirrors the fertilizer application in CF practices. The CF practice used comprised manually hoe-dug planting 10-L sized basins, where 10%–12% of the land was tilled. Pilot trials were performed with maize cob biochar and wood biochar on five soils with variable physical/chemical characteristics. At a dosage as low as 4 tons/ha, both biochars had a strong positive effect on maize yields in the coarse white aeolian sand of Kaoma, West-Zambia, with yields of 444% ± 114% (p = 0.06) and 352% ± 139% (p = 0.1) of the fertilized reference plots for maize and wood biochar, respectively. Thus for sandy acidic soils, CF and biochar amendment can be a promising combination for increasing harvest yield. Moderate but non-significant effects on yields were observed for maize and wood biochar in a red sandy clay loam ultisol east of Lusaka, central Zambia (University of Zambia, UNZA, site) with growth of 142% ± 42% (p > 0.2) and 131% ± 62% (p > 0.2) of fertilized reference plots, respectively. For three other soils (acidic and neutral clay loams and silty clay with variable cation exchange capacity, CEC), no significant effects on maize yields were observed (p > 0.2). In laboratory trials, 5% of the two biochars were added to the soil samples in order to study the effect of the biochar on physical and chemical soil characteristics. The large increase in crop yield in Kaoma soil was tentatively explained by a combination of an increased base saturation ..."

Friday, 5 April 2013

The other WTO...
links here to work in the Philippines and Indonesia

Palm frond biochar production and characterisation

Co/ the Erich Knight search engine...

"Palm oil has been the world's main source of oil and fats since 2004, producing over 45 million tonnes in 2009. Malaysia alone has over 4·5 million hectares planted with oil palm and, based on common practice, ∼300 palm fronds are pruned per hectare per year. This agricultural waste is currently either being used as roughage feed or, more frequently, being left between rows of palm trees to prevent soil erosion, or for nutrient recycling purposes. This paper proposes an alternative use for palm frond as a source of biochar. A traditional method commonly use by gardeners in Malaysia to improve soil fertility was used to produce the biochar. A shallow earth pit was dug in the ground for the carbonisation process. The process is described and the impact of carbonisation on the earth wall is analysed and presented. The process was later re-assessed by using TGA-FTIR. Most of the hemicelluloses had fully disintegrated, but the depolymerisation of the cellulose was still incomplete at the carbonisation temperature. Most of the lignin aromatic structure was still present in the biochar. The carbonisation process was repeated in the laboratory and biochar was characterised by using BET, SEM and FTIR. An adsorption isotherm study was conducted and the experimental data were fitted to the Langmuir model. The model predicted Pb2+ adsorption rates of 83·3 mg/g, Cu2+ 41·4 mg/g, Ni2+ 13·0 mg/g and Zn2+ 19·7 mg/g."

A. Md Som, Z. Wang and A. Al-Tabbaa
Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK.

Malaysian Soils Conference 2013 update (biochar papers)

Three biochar related papers and one poster will be presented at the Malaysian Soils conference (16-18 April 2013)

SESSION 6: Soil Physics and Biochar (Wednesday, 17 April)
Chairman: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Che Fauziah Ishak
Quality of biochars derived from empty fruit bunch and rice husk produced at different pyrolysis temperature
Claoston N., A.W. Samsuri , M.K. Ahmad Husni and M.S. Mohd Amran (Universiti Putra Malaysia)
Adsorption of NPK fertilizer on original and HA-coated palm kernel shell biochar
Arasu Uttran, Muhammad Ahmad, Robert Thomas Bachmann and Loh Soh Kheang (Universiti Kuala Lumpur)
Effect of empty fruit bunch biochar on rice cultivated in an acid sulphate soil system of rice intensification
Rosenani A. B., R. Zahidah, S. H. Ahmad, B. Jalili Seh-Bardan and C. Coulter (Universiti Putra Malaysia)

8. Effect of chicken manure and biochar (empty fruit brunch) amendments on kenaf yield planted on sandy soil (BRIS soil)
Norkhatina M.R., M.S. Malisa and J. Hamdan (Universiti Putra Malaysia)