Thursday 25 December 2014

Report: Biochar on acidic agricultural lands in Indonesia and Malaysia

I've been aware of a collaborative biochar research program that has been running over a number of years, led by Gerard Cornelissen from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute with participation from researchers in Malaysia and Indonesia. I have now discovered that this work has been extensively documented here and the final report from the Malaysia / Indonesia component of this research was released earlier this year...

"Biochar is the charcoal product obtained when biomass (preferably organic waste, not wood) is heated without access to oxygen (pyrolysis). Most of the biochar matrix is likely stable when mixed into soils, and thus represents carbon that is actively removed from the short-lived carbon cycle and thus contributes to climate change mitigation. Biochar combines a number of important “wins” such as: i) climate change mitigation: carbon sequestration and reduction of other GHG emissions (mainly N 2 O), ii) soil fertility improvement, iii) pollutant immobilization, iv) waste management and v) energy production. In this project we investigated two of these “wins” in an Indonesian /Malaysian context: soil fertility improvement and biochar technology /energy production. In addition, physical and chemical properties of biochar were evaluated.

General findings: Co-synthesis of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) during biochar production has oft en been reported as a potential impediment to biochar implementation. We found however, that for 60 biochars, PAH contents were low and so strongly bound that they were almost unavailable for uptake in plants and soil organisms. We also investigated potential undesired co-effects of biochar on soil biota in a biochar-soil system, and found that these were modest. In addition, earthworms preferred biochar over other soil amendments (activated carbon and an iron-based metal sorbent) in avoidance tests. 

Soil fertility improvement: In pot trials in Kalimantan, (Indonesia) hardly any biochar eff ect on rice and maize growth was found for acid sulphate and peat soils. In contrast, positive biochar eff ects were seen for clay soil in West-Timor and oxisol in Sulawesi (both Indonesia). 

Biochar technology: An upscale Belonio top-lit updraft gasifier was developed and used to prepare biochar for field trial applications in Malaysia. In Sulawesi clean cooking stoves run on biochar generated by improved retort kilns were implemented.

Life-cycle and cost-benefit analysis: these analyses were centered around our case study in the village of Ngata Toro in Sulawesi. The most important finding of both these analyses was that soil amendment for improved soil fertility is a better way to use biochar than burning it as briquettes for cooking purposes. The main reasons are that i) polluting gases generated during biochar production are not off set by carbon sequestration in the briquetting alternative, and ii) briquetting is much more labor-intensive than applying biochar to agricultural soil. 

This research project has paved the way for large-scale implementation of biochar in Indonesia. The biochar will be prepared using environmentally-friendly retort kilns, and mainly applied to degraded lands where yield increases can be expected.

In addition, this project has led to several spinoff projects in other countries: Nepal (biochar from an ubiquitous weed, spontaneous farmer adoption), Zambia (maize biochar in conservation farming), Tanzania (rice husk biochar used as soil amendment, made in retort kilns where energy is used for bread baking by housewife groups) and Uganda (village electrifi cation by gasification with biochar as by-product)."

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Bandar Utama — a history of biochar application in Malaysia

The December issue of the IBI monthly newsletter has now been released. It profiles an article that I've written with Dr Francis Ng, on his biochar work at Bandar Utama township, KL, Malaysia over the past 12 years.

A direct link to the profile on the IBI website is here.

This is a slightly edited version of the original article. If you like to read the original, then please scroll down to my earlier release via google docs.

Monday 8 December 2014

Symphony of the Soil

"The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the International Year of the Soils (IYS) 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

To help celebrate the International Year of the Soils, we will be streaming the full feature film, Symphony of the Soil, for FREE for the week of December 5 – 12, 2014. You can help us spread the word by linking to or embedding the film on your site with a link to the Symphony of the Soil website and to the International Year of the Soils."


Sunday 7 December 2014

Bandar Utama - a history of biochar application in Malaysia (pre-publication)

The link below is to an article that has been submitted to IBI for publication in their monthly newsletter.
I am hoping it will appear in the December issue.

The link is to a google document. Please let me know if you are not able to access... I can send as a PDF.

Friday 28 November 2014

Biochar animations from Europe

A couple of new 3min. animations on biochar from ...
which I had not heard of and appears to be a European Development Agency initiative.
Its a pity they don't delve a little deeper into productions methods. The animation implies flash pyrolysis production is THE method of production... a bit misleading IMO. They do cover some of the new ideas for biochar applications such as animal feeds and building materials.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

News from UniKL MICET biochar group

The following announcement has been provided by Prof. Robert Bachmann for the November IBI newsletter:

At present two undergraduate students under the supervision of Dr Amelia Md Som (
investigate the effect of biochar on phytoremediation of soils contaminated with Cu, Ni, Pb  and  Zn by Helianthus annuus L, while another student, Ms Syila investigates the possibility of using the original Belonio rice husk gasifier for empty fruit bunch. This project is under the supervision of Mdm Asimi Ana Ahmad.
MICET also welcomed two visiting students from Wismar University / Germany, Mr Kevin Busack and Lukas Sievert, who are both recipients of the DAAD RISE Worldwide scholarship ( Kevin has been given the task to develop a standard operating procedure for APL's biochar experimenter kit (BEK), produce and characterise biochar from oil palm biomass under various process conditions and determine the emission factors for various gases. His project is carried out in collaboration with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). Lukas' challenge is to improve the upscaled Belonio rice husk gasifier developed by Dr Nsamba Hussein Kisiki in terms of ease of use as well as utilisation of the syngas produced.


Group website:

Program Coordinator (MGEEB)
78000 Alor Gajah

Sunday 26 October 2014

Biochar training course & conference, Nanjing

“Following the success of the first and the second Biochar Training Course, The Biochar and Green Agriculture Center of Nanjing Agriculture University in collaboration with the University of Newcastle and University of NSW of Australia is announcing a third course to be held starting 16th April 2015. China now leads the world in the commercial production of both biochar and biochar technology. It has pioneered the development of combine NPK biochar granulated fertilizers.”
You can find details from this link to the course announcement and conference program.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Sydney biochar workshop - 10 December

International Perspectives on Biochar Research and Application
"Leading experts from Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Thailand, UK and USA will discuss biochar applications in different systems. It is a great opportunity to learn about the current biochar research and applications. ..."

This 1-day workshop has some tropical soils and SEA content Co/ ...

  • Gerard Cornelissen, Norway. Environmental and socio-economic impacts of the adoption of biochar technology in developing countries
  • Nattaporn Prakongkep , Thai Department of Agriculture, and Bob Gilkes, The University of Western Australia Opportunities for fruit waste biochars in organic agriculture in the tropics
Check out the details here.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Urban biochar project model

Coming to a city near you in SEA soon (hopefully)...

Stockholm, Sweden: Biochar – for a Better City Ecosystem
"Stockholm, like many global cities, is confronting the effects of climate change. Stockholm will create a citywide program that activates citizens as front-line change agents to curb this escalating problem. Together, the city and its residents will produce biochar, an organic substance that increases tree growth, sequesters carbon, and purifies storm water runoff. Citizens will bring their green waste to locations across the city for conversion to biochar and, ultimately, redistribution."

Sunday 7 September 2014

the Biochar Journal

Ithaka Institute have been busy. Here is a link to a new biochar journal that is in beta test mode this month. Hans-Peter has pulled together a great team of experts from around the world. Check out the list of existing and planned articles. It launches with an article by Kathleen Draper on biochar paper… exciting stuff.

My previous report on some of their work can be seen here...

I have not reported here on my recent visit to the Ithaka Institute and a commercial operation in Switzerland as these focused mainly on temperate climate agriculture. But do get in touch if you are interested. 

Friday 5 September 2014

New biochar related article from Paul Olivier in Vietnam

Biochar is frequently discussed in this broad ranging, entertaining and enlightening article.

An Unconventional Way Of Raising Pigs, Chickens and Cows

Four levels of waste transformation are adapted and applied to the raising of pigs, chickens and cows. Farmers ferment waste into feed (Level 1). They feed fecal matter to the larvae of the black soldier fly, they feed larval residue to red worms, and they fertilize their crops primarily with vermicompost (Level 2). They house pigs, chickens and cows on a soft mesophilic bedding (Level 3) sprayed each day with probiotic liquids. They add biochar from top-lit, updraft gasifiers to the fermented feed and to the bedding, and they use syngas for household cooking (Level 4). The bedding has no odor. There are no flies. At no point in their lives are antibiotics or any other pharmaceuticals administered to pigs, chickens and cows raised in this unconventional way. Just about all of the behavioral and physiological needs of animals and poultry are met. Instead of inhumane confinement or free-range, we propose a third way: confinement in a clean, spacious and odorless setting that accords comfort and dignity to animals. High levels of productivity are achieved, not by means by over-crowding, antibiotics, growth hormones or chemical fertilizers - but by lining up multiple, interdependent waste transformation cycles that all reduce cost and generate income. These waste transformation technologies can even be extended to include the recycling of bone, human waste and biodegradable household waste. Through the wise and efficient transformation of waste, farmers buy nothing from feed, fertilizer, pharmaceutical, and fuel companies. Strong and self-reliant, farmers no longer depend on the fragile infrastructure of global trade. Large international corporations that enslave small farmers through the sale of unsustainable inputs are shut out, along with traders peddling cheap subsidized products that devastate local economies. In this way a lot more jobs are created and a lot more money is made at the local level. The social upheaval caused by the migration of young people to large cities is eliminated. Poor people, especially poor women, are empowered as never before. Food production increases. Food security, along with national security, is enhanced. Trade figures improve. Human health is not endangered. The environment does not suffer. And neither do pigs, chickens and cows.

Dr. Paul A. Olivier and Dr. Nguyen Van Ket and Todd Hyman
Empowering the Poor Through Waste Transformation

Paul Olivier's work in Vietnam with TLUD stoves has been covered previously in this website...
10 Aug 2013
Dr Paul Olivier visits Malaysia - regional TLUD development. The following comments are Co/ Dr Paul Olivier, cut from a recent post to the "Improved Biomass Cooking Stoves" discussion list (you may need to sign up to ...

04 Mar 2012
If you are interested in biomass stoves (TLUD) or the multiple applications for small scale biomass gasification then I highly recommend a review of Dr Paul Olivier's work in Vietnam with rice husk biomass. His 10 page report ...

Thursday 28 August 2014

BiocharCulture - a new book

Dr Reddy has just released a new book on biochar which is freely available via as a PDF file from a web download. The author...
"My latest Book title "Biocharculture - Biochar for Environment and Development" Published by MetaMeta, Netherlands. It took two years to write covering a decade of my endeavour with biochar. I am thankful to all the members in the e-groups for the valuable insights, thanks also to the communities / farmers. This book is declared as open Knowledge.. Available online the links are or or Thanks to MetaMeta for publishing and all the support."

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy

Click here to download book
"Here is a question often asked with great concern: can agriculture meet the challenges of an expanding world and a global economy that is moving more to ‘middle income’? The projections by the Food and Agricultural Organization for instance are that by 2050 the demand for food and fibres - compared with 2005 - will have expanded by 60% respectively 81%. Is this a challenge that is too hard to meet?

A recent comprehensive review of co-optimizing solution for food, water and energy by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development1 found that we still have many cooptimizing options in hand, but it also means that we need to rejuvenate the way farming is done. Agriculture needs to be more precise. It needs to be better integrated in the landscapes that it is part of and it should be supporting rather than substituting natural processes.

It is in this regard that I am very happy to introduce this book on Biocharculture and also to acknowledge its unfailing energetic author, Sai Bhaskar Reddy. We are happy that much of his overall insights and first hand experiences have become available through this book.

Biocharculture falls very much in a vision of an agriculture that supports and makes use of natural growing mechanism. Biochar is charcoal that is used for other purposes than heating. It can be a byproduct or part of an entire production system. 

Biochar scores on many fronts: it improves the capacity of the soil to retain moisture but also nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. It helps regulate soil temperature and contribute to climate change mitigation. It improves soil life. I still remember that Sai Bhaskar explained a tiny piece of charcoal to me as being a ‘skyscraper for millions of soil biota’. There is still a world to gain – by better understanding this miraculous microbial world and the way our soils and landscapes work and this book hopes to contribute and give practical suggestions and directions. Interesting in some parts of the world biochar is part of the production process where in other it is not. In other words we need to create new traditions and farming cultures, as this book very much argues."
Frank van Steenbergen
Director, MetaMeta

Dr Reddy also published a book on cooking stoves which is also available for download from:
Understanding Stoves (pdf)  and flash book
S. B. Nakka Reddy, 2012

Tuesday 26 August 2014

New biochar research from Malaysia related to soil remediation


"Biochar as a new soil amendment has a potential in controlling the fate of trace elements in the soil system. However, the production of biochar from different feedstocks and pyrolysis conditions resulted in variable biochar properties which have an influence on trace elements availability. The experimental works are focused on physical and chemical properties of biochars produced from Empty Fruit Bunch (EFB) and Rice Husk (RH) as heavy metals adsorbents. The morphology of EFB biochar comprise rigid structure with uniform pores size. The surface area of biochars ranged between 23.22-46.32 m2 /g, dominated with mesopores. The chemical characterization of biochars revealed high carbon content in EFB biochar compared to RH biochar (54.08 and 7.78%). Both biochars are alkaline in nature (>pH 9) and contain substantial amounts of N, P, K, Ca and Mg. Fourier transform infra-red spectra showed the heterogenic functional groups on EFB biochar surface and domination of silica content in RH biochar. The batch experiment was employed to determine the adsorption capacity of these biochars for As and Cd. The adsorption data were fitted well in Langmuir isotherm with high correlation coefficient (R>0.9) for As and Cd. The qmax of EFB biochar for As and Cd was higher than RH biochar. The q of EFB biochar was 0.4240 and 15.1515 mg g-1 for As and Cd, respectively. In contrast, the qmax of RH biochar for As and Cd was only 0.3522 and 3.1908 mg g-1. The results show that EFB biochar and RH biochar have potentials as good sorbent for As and Cd. Therefore, it can be suggested that the application of these biochars may possibly reduce the trace elements availability in the contaminated soil." 

Norazlina Abu Sari, Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Plantation and Agrotechnology, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 77300 Merlimau, Melaka, Malaysia
Che Fauziah Ishak and Rosenani Abu Bakar, Department of Land Management, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Malaysia

Link to the publication

Tuesday 15 July 2014

World Bank on Biochar Systems for Smallholders in Developing Countries

Courtesy of International Biochar Initiative: (includes Vietnam case study on rice husk)

The World Bank has recently published the report entitled,

Biochar Systems for Smallholders in Developing Countries : Leveraging Current Knowledge and Exploring Future Potential for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Biochar is the carbon-rich organic matter that remains after heating biomass under the minimization of oxygen during a process called pyrolysis. There are a number of reasons why biochar systems may be particularly relevant in developing-country contexts. This report offers a review of what is known about opportunities and risks of biochar systems. Its aim is to provide a state-of-the-art overview of current knowledge regarding biochar science. In that sense the report also offers a reconciling view on different scientific opinions about biochar providing an overall account that shows the various perspectives of its science and application. This includes soil and agricultural impacts of biochar, climate change impacts, social impacts, and competing uses of biomass. The report aims to contextualize the current scientific knowledge in order to put it at use to address the development climate change nexus, including social and environmental sustainability. The report is organized as follows: chapter one offers some introductory comments and notes the increasing interest in biochar both from a scientific and practitioner's point of view; chapter two gives further background on biochar, describing its characteristics and outlining the way in which biochar systems function. Chapter three considers the opportunities and risks of biochar systems. Based on the results of the surveys undertaken, chapter four presents a typology of biochar systems emerging in practice, particularly in the developing world. Life-cycle assessments of the net climate change impact and the net economic profitability of three biochar systems with data collected from relatively advanced biochar projects were conducted and are presented in chapter five. Chapter six investigates various aspects of technology adoption, including barriers to implementing promising systems, focusing on economics, carbon market access, and sociocultural barriers. Finally, the status of knowledge regarding biochar systems is interpreted in chapter seven to determine potential implications for future involvement in biochar research, policy, and project formulation.
“Scholz, Sebastian M.; Sembres, Thomas; Roberts, Kelli; Whitman, Thea; Wilson, Kelpie; Lehmann, Johannes. 2014. Biochar Systems for Smallholders in Developing Countries : Leveraging Current Knowledge and Exploring Future Potential for Climate-Smart Agriculture. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”

Sunday 13 July 2014

Not-to-be-missed new video on simple biochar production

Kon-Tiki - open burn deep cone kiln for biochar

There's a bit of a buzz in the biochar community over these type of cone kilns (TFOD) and 'Moxham' kilns. Backyard biochar has led the way on this...

Although not stated, I think this video has been put together by Hans-Peter Schmidt at the Ithaka Institute in Switzerland during a recent visit by Paul Taylor.

This type of simple, low cost, versatile and relatively clean biochar production may be the way forward for many home biochar production scenarios. It looks particularly suitable for unprocessed woody biomass. It may even offer a better solution than 200L TLUD's for my suggested haze reduction project.

I will be visiting the Ithaka Institute later this month and hope to progress biochar plantation trials later in the year. The plantation companies will want to see some economic validation for biochar before there is any investment in biochar production or large scale support for developing plantation biomass to biochar projects.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Secret Garden revisted

I've been collaborating with Dr Francis Ng and Alfred Cheong on an article describing the historical and ongoing use of biochar in Bandar Utama, a township within Kuala Lumpur. Biochar related activities began in Bandar Utama in 2002 culminating in the Secret Garden opening in 2009 and ongoing commercial applications in urban landscaping. Hopefully the article will be completed in August.

During my visit yesterday, I was introduced to some of Dr Ng's extensive plantings that I had missed on previous visits. The photo below finds Dr Ng next to a very healthy looking camellia sinensis or tea bushes. Also nearby were arabica, robusta and liberica coffee plants... all happily living with their feet in 50% carbon.
Dr Francis Ng beside his roof-top tea plantation

A new brochure has been printed for the Secret Garden and this now provides back-ground details on the biochar soils that have been used in the garden. You can access a scan copy of the brochure / guide from here.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Can biomass char remove toxic synthetic chemicals from drinking water?

Here's a campaign worthy of support. Josh Kearns has a long history of good work in Thailand. This is a very well presented pitch...

"Toxic synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and pharmaceutical residues are a major threat to drinking water safety worldwide. Low-cost, environmentally sustainable and locally managed treatment technologies are needed to protect human health in impoverished, rural and remote communities. This research project demonstrates the potential of char made from surplus biomass (biochar) as an effective sorbent for chemical toxins."

Wednesday 11 June 2014

What Is the Connection between Rice Straw, Charcoal and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

..."Another option is to turn the rice straw into charcoal by burning it while restricting the amount of oxygen so the carbon in the straw does not turn into CO2. The charcoal is then returned to the rice field. Therefore, instead of rice farming being a source of carbon emissions, it could actually store carbon, what is better known as carbon sequestration.   It is still early days and researchers are busy understanding the wonders of turning straw into charcoal which they call biochar. However, an organization called the Philippine Biochar Association is already promoting biochar use with Philippine rice farmers. What they are doing is paying the farmers to turn their rice straw into biochar instead of burning it in the field. This is funded by local companies who want to offset their carbon footprint. If you are interested to learn more about the Philippine Biochar Association, click on the following link ."

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Biomass Asia Conference 2014

From this link: there was some intent to have a biochar component to this conference...

THEME 5: Biomass for Agriculture

  • Conversion of biomass into compost
  • Value-adding strategies for biofertiliser
  • Biochar development & market updates
But based on the available program, it seems that there may not now be any specific papers.

2nd Biochar Workshop - Pakistan

2nd International Workshop on Biochar for Climate Friendly Agriculture. "Agronomic, socio-economic and policy perspectives on biochar and C-Market" to be held on 12th May, 2014 at University of Agriculture Faisalabad-Pakistan. You are welcome to join in...

Registration open online on the following weblink:
Dr. Fahd Rasul
0092 322 7881778  (Cell no)
Assistant professor, 

Pakistan Biochar Initiative
Climate Change Mitigation Lab,
Department of Agronomy,
University of Agriculture Faisalabad 38040 Pakistan.

Friday 2 May 2014

Biochar in Agriculture - Perspectives for Germany and Malaysia

The above image links to a website dedicated to a research project that includes participation of University Putra Malaysia (UPM) who have been quietly undertaking biochar research for a number of years.

"Aims of this project are research activities on the use of charred biomass material (biochar) in agriculture to provide a better understanding of economic and environmental potentials of biochar. A special focus is set on the GHG mitigation potential of biochar use and its economic costs. The holistic challenge will be analyzed in a consortium led by the Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Engineering Potsdam-Bornim e.V. (ATB) in cooperation with the Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape (Zalf), the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Technical University of Berlin (TU), Humboldt-University Berlin (HU) and the University of Putra Malaysia (UPM)."

Note the two newsletters that are available from the website. These provide project status information for July 2013 and March 2014. The latest newsletter reports the following...

"Pot Experiment on N-Fertilizer Leaching and Crop Uptake 
Azni Idris, Rosenani Abu Bakar, Tinia Idaty Mohd. Ghazi, Mohd Amran Mohd Salleh, Sherwin Lee Chan Kit (University Putra Malaysia)  
The aim of our study is to determine the effects of oil palm  empty  fruit  bunch  (EFB)  biochar  on nitrogen (N)  fertilizer recovery,  crop uptake,  and N  leaching using 15 N  labelled  fertilizer. A pot experiment was conducted  under  a  rain  shelter using maize as the test crop and soil type used for planting was clayey sandy soil. The experimental design was random complete block (RCBD) with 6 blocks and treated with four rates of EFB biochar; 0 (control), 5, 10, and 20t/ha. After incubating the soils in the pots for 2 weeks, EFB biochar was  applied at the top 20 cm of the soil and only one maize  was planted per pot. The maize plants were fertilized at 10 days old with ammonium sulphate [(15NH4)2SO4]  labelled  with 15N, triple superphosphate (TSP), and  muriate of potash (MOP) at the rate of 30:30:30. The  same fertilizer rate was applied again when the maize reached 20 days old and final fertilization at the rate of 20:20:20 was applied at the age of 35 days old. Induced leaching was started 2 days after the first fertilization and continuously done once after every 4 days until silking stage of the maize. The total leachate was measured while ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-) concentration in leachate was analyzed using steam distillation method with MgO and Devarda’s alloy, respectively (Bremner, 1965). At silking stage (56 days  old),  tissue  sample was harvested  to  be analyzed for dry matter weight, N content, total N, P, K, Ca, and Mg, while pot soil will be analyzed for 15N content, total N, C, P, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), cation exchange capacity (CEC), and exchangeable cations (K, Ca, and Mg). From the results obtained so far, EFB biochar has the ability to increase water holding capacity (Laird et  al., 2010) and reduces leaching. Hence, the volume and frequency of watering can be reduced and lesser nitrogen (N) fertilizer will be lost due to leaching. The biochar acts like a cache for water and indirectly holds more soluble plant nutrients, especially N. This could be the reason why maize that were treated with EFB biochar have greater biomass than the control (Figure 3). Future work of analyzing 15N in the maize tissue and pot soil using isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) will support this theory. "

Monday 28 April 2014

60 new biochar papers and poster this week in Europe

European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2014
Vienna | Austria | 27 April – 02 May 2014

There is a large biochar component at this European conference this week...

Deep Down & Dirty - The Science of Soil

This new BBC documentary is a nice look below your feet...

Thursday 17 April 2014

Biochar booth at Hari Organik - Sunday, 27 April

Prof. Robert Bachmann has confirmed that UniKL MICET will be hosting a biochar display and information booth at the upcoming CETDEM 14th Hari Organik in Klang Centro Mall, Kuala Lumpur. This will be an opportunity to introduce the public organic farming community to the production and application of biochar with a focus on organic farming synergies and urban agriculture.  Further details are available from the CETDEM website or

If you are interested in supporting this or future biochar efforts, then please get in touch (febiochar(at) or 012 6591430). I note that this is a bi-monthly event so if successful, we could try to repeat in upcoming Hari Organik events (21Jun, SS2 PJ; 23Aug, Bangsar; 18Oct, Melacca).

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Biochar workshops in Indonesia - 2013

It seems I've not been doing a very good job of keeping up with biochar activity in Indonesia. From the IBI conference records ( I note the following activities from 2013:

I also note that IBI are maintaining a calender on upcoming biochar related events around the world ( 

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Biochar activity in Thailand - Warm Heart

Produce a low-cost, low-tech biochar burner and clean burning, biochar producing cook stove for mountain village use, and achieve widespread adoption of biochar and the clean burning stove.

Warm Heart is all about finding complementary solutions to separate problems. Case in point: mountain-soil restoration and respiratory disease reduction. Years of over-use, exposure to sun and erosion have reduced farmers’ fields to hard, lifeless clay. Without the organic matter, microbes and fungi essential to plant growth, their soil is close to infertile. Years of exposure to cook-stove smoke have made respiratory illnesses among the leading causes of death among the elderly. Exposure to cooking smoke annually kills twice as many children as malaria or HIV/AIDS, and is reported by WHO to be the fifth worst risk factor for disease in the developing world. Collecting the wood to keep the fires going day and night also exhausts women.

There is nothing necessary about the condition of villages’ soil, nor is there anything necessary about constant exposure to wood smoke. Both result from the lack of better technological alternatives. Tropical agriculture specialists have long recognized the problems that have destroyed the mountain soils of Phrao, and have ready, inexpensive solutions. There are also ready, inexpensive alternatives to open-hearth fires and pot cook stoves. If only there was a way to disseminate this information and to encourage the adoption of the new technologies…

We knew about shade trees and green mulch cover crops, but they offer only slow improvements in soils as degraded as ours. Then we discovered biochar or “super charcoal” produced at a high temperature in an oxygen-free environment. Alone and mixed with fertilizers or composts, it is an extraordinary soil amendment. Biochar improves soil’s water retention capacity, increases its ability to host beneficial microbes and fungi, improves plants’ nutrient uptake, and increases yields. To our disappointment, the locally available biochar burners were for backyard cowboys. How to produce enough biochar to plant demonstration fields, and how to produce a low-tech but high-volume burner that could be built in the villages?

Our volunteers transformed an old playground merry-go-round into a six-barrel biochar burner capable of producing 1.2 tons of biochar weekly! With our plans, a junk yard and a home welder, anyone can make one for almost nothing. But how to encourage biochar adoption?

Another volunteer suggested biochar producing, clean burning cook stoves. Show people that the stoves do not produce smoke, burn readily available corncobs and rice husks instead of wood, and produce a pound of biochar per meal. Then give them two options: use the biochar yourself or sell it to us."

Thursday 13 March 2014

Biochar Training Course - Nanjing Agricultural University

Announcement; The Third International Biochar Training Course held at Nanjing Agricultural University (NJAU) October 16th 2014

Following the success of the first training course the Biochar and Green Agriculture Centre of Nanjing Agriculture University in Collaboration with the University of Newcastle of Australia and the University of NSW is announcing a second course to be held starting 16th October 2014. China now leads the world in the commercial production of both biochar and biochar technology. It has pioneered the development of combine NPK biochar granulated fertilizers.

Report on the Second International Biochar Training Course held at Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University (ZAFU), Linan, Hangzhou Province, China, organized by Nanjing Agricultural University in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and Newcastle University (Australia), October 2013

Stephen Joseph, Helen Gould and Genxing Pan

Monday 3 March 2014

Biochar workshop in Pakistan - 24-27 March

This four day workshop has a great line-up of international speakers...

Workshop: Biochar: for climate friendly agriculture, Shifting paradigms for higher precision and efficiency (Faisalabad, Pakistan)

A workshop titled "Biochar: for climate friendly agriculture, Shifting paradigms for higher precision and efficiency" will be held at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad Pakistan from 24-27th March, 2014 in collaboration with UKBRC, University of EdinBurgh, UK. Leading scientists in Biochar from Australia (Prof. Stephen Jospeh), China (Prof. Pan Gen XING), UK (Ruben Sakrabani), Switzerland (Hans-Peter Scmidt) and other leading scientists are going to conduct this workshop sponsored by British Council under the UK research link program for Pakistan. The Organizers of this joint effort from UK and Pakistan are Dr. Simon J Shackley (School of geo sciences, Edinburgh University UK and British Biochar foundation) and Dr. Fahd Rasul (agro-climatology lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad).

Monday 24 February 2014

Biochar – The Next Stage In Climate Action

From ... a nice 30min video focusing on some of the potential for biochar to impact positively on people, the environment and climate.

CoolPlanet related press release - Malaysia

"Asia Bioenergy Technologies Bhd (AsiaBio), via associate Nexfuel Ltd, is targeting to construct up to three fuel production plants costing US$70mil (RM230.9mil) each, and securing the offtakers by the first half of the year. The plants will have a capacity of 10 million gallons each.AsiaBio is in talks with a couple of plantation companies and is hoping to construct two plants in Johor and one in Pahang. The first plant is targeted to be set up by 2016"

"We will secure the offtakers before tying up with the plantation companies to set up the plant. We intend to put biochar into our existing product, a microbe we have branded under the name ‘Artisan’."

Clean Stove Technology RFP - Indonesia

Crispin Pembert-Pigott has provided links to potential TLUD stove producer project opportunities in Indonesia. Links and discussion on this can be found in the February 'stoves' discussion archive. Scroll to bottom, 20Feb. Crispin's original link is broken (repaired below)...

"There was a RFTP (Request for Technology Proposals) issued by the Government of Indonesia seeking improved stoves for Central Java Province. 
The relevant document is available in English and Bahasa Indonesia at:"

Thursday 30 January 2014

National Biomass Seminar, Malang, Indonesia 18 June 2014 - Call for papers

I've been asked to circulate news on the following call Biochar related seminar and for papers



Further information here...

Friday 10 January 2014

Philippine Biochar Association signs MoA in Quezon City

"GMA Network recently inked a Memorandum of Agreement with Sagip Ilog Pilipinas Movement (SIPM), Philippine Biochar Association (PBiA) and Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) to undertake a water pollution reduction and livelihood program dubbed the Clean River Zone Biochar Community Project.
Through its Kapuso ng Kalikasan, an environment-focused CSR platform, GMA is set to support the program by organizing community engagement activities with its corps of employee volunteers, the GMA GIVES.

The Clean River Zone Biochar Community Project involves the use of Bokashi balls to reduce the pollution of the estero in Block 5, Daang Tubo, Diliman, Quezon City and create an alternative livelihood for the residents in the said community."