Saturday 30 November 2013

Soil science - a crash course

Biochar workshop videos

This biochar workshop delves deep into the many aspects of biochar production and application. Part 1 focuses on practical production techniques using ‘drum within drum’ retort. There may be some advantages for this over the TLUD system (ie, reduced supervision).

Part 2 and 3 are classroom based with Q&A. Bob Wells (New England Biochar) describes his 4-part philosophy for biochar production: 1 – make the best possible biochar; 2 – use the residual energy efficiently; 3 – eliminate emissions; 4 – make the project profitable. John Nilsson (soil scientist) talks about history of biochar and its applications.

Part 4 takes a look at the triple Adam Retort system, installed by New England Biochar, that is the center piece for the site where the workshop is conducted.

Friday 29 November 2013

Japanese Charcoal

Japan has a long history with charcoal and continues to demonstrate novel uses for its many forms... including soil applications.

Part 1 focuses on the history of, and cooking with, charcoal in Japan...

Thursday 28 November 2013

Biochar burn school results - another haze reduction strategy?

Where open burning is legal and unavoidable, the technique demonstrated here offers benefits for pollution / haze reduction and biochar production.
"A quick summary of results of experiments in open burn techniques to minimize smoke and maximize charcoal production. Experiments were conducted by volunteers over a 3 day period, November 15-17, 2013, outside of Grants Pass, Oregon."

Soil Science Conference of Malaysia 2014 - Announcement and call for papers

The Malaysian Society of Soil Science (MSSS) has announced their annual conference for 8-10 April 2014 in Kangsar, Perlis. The brochure can be viewed here:

Call for papers (and posters) deadline 31Dec 2013

Last year provided 3 papers and a poster on biochar...

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Biochar and compost – important information

This should prove to be a valuable contribution to the accumulated knowledge on the benefits of combining biochar and compost...

Note "Integrated solutions in Vietnam", page 49

Tuesday 12 November 2013

ECHO Asia Biochar Initiatives - Thailand

I have a PDF version of the following report from ECHO Asia in Thailand (with photos) which can be provided upon request.

"The ECHO Asia Impact Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand has been researching and promoting biochar since 2011 for its potential role in soil improvement. Biochar seems especially well-suited to offer positive soil building properties and climate change mitigation strategies for smallholder farmers in Asia.

In August of 2012, ECHO Asia began conducting a 3-year randomized complete block field experiment to test the effects of biochar on plant health and growth at the ECHO Asia Seed Bank in Mae Ai, Thailand. Four raised beds (8m X 90cm) made out of cement bricks and filled with local soil were utilized, and experimental units (four per bed, measuring 1.5m X 90cm with 50cm buffer space) were physically separated with plastic lined cement bricks to prevent migration of nutrients, biochar, and earthworms. Bamboo char was made from Dendrocalamusstrictus using a TLUD made from a 55-gallon drum. Treatments were: 1) control soil without amendments, 2) soil with compost added; 3) soil with char added; and 4) soil with biochar added (equal parts of char and hog manure compost left to age for 3 months). All additions to the experimental units were made on an equal weight basis of 2kg m-2.

Two cropping cycles per year will be utilized, with the first cycle comprised of 6 plants of direct-seeded grain amaranth and 6 transplants of ‘Clemson Spinless’ okra, and the second cycle comprised of 6 plants of direct-seeded foxtail millet and 6 transplants of yellow eggplant in every experimental unit. This cropping cycle arrangement will be followed for three years without additional fertility inputs. Dependent variables include soil testing of the experimental units, soil testing of the amendments, plant height, plant yield, % necrosis and chlorosis, and chlorophyll content (as a proxy for nitrogen deficiency) using an atLEAF+ meter (similar to a SPAD meter). The first year of cropping is finished, but results have yet to be analyzed.

The office also has plans to start another experiment that will investigate the properties of different chars made from different feedstocks using different gasification stoves. The goal is to determine the boil time for a predetermined amount of water from a pre-determined amount of feedstock, the amount of resultant char, the temperatures achieved by feedstock and stove type, and the properties of the resulting char (pH, CEC, etc.)."

Abram J. Bicksler, Ph.D.
Director, ECHO Asia Impact Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand