Monday, 25 January 2016

In support of UASJ

Why publish in the UTAR Agriculture Science Journal ?

The UTAR Agriculture Science Journal (UASJ), published four times a year, addresses all aspects of biological production, including crop and animal science, and sustainability issues concerning soil, water, waste, environment and climate. We think sustainable agriculture is dependent on our willingness and ability to appreciate all the different factors that collectively sustain life on earth.

Normal academic journals cater for academic scientists and make limited impact in the world of agriculture. UASJ aims to make maximum impact. Recognizing the energizing power of a good story, we require our authors to make impact through skill in exposition: every article should be informative, interesting and inspiring without mathematical and technical jargon.

UASJ is freely available on the Internet. Anyone with a smart phone or laptop can access its contents. Simultaneously UASJ is produced as a traditional printed journal, so that it can be cited like a printed journal and be used and archived in conventional libraries. The general style and format can be obtained from recent past issues on the UASJ website:

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Ithaka Climate Farming Odyssey to Nepal

Travel & Workshop in Nepal

Ithaka Climate Farming Odyssey to Nepal

The Ithaka Institute is pleased to announce that we are piloting our very first educational odyssey where travelers will not only experience the beauty and splendor of Nepal, but will learn how Nepali farmers are improving resiliency and creating new rural jobs through climate farming and biochar based agro-forestry.
Over an 8 day period, travelers will see parts of Nepal which are definitely off the beaten path. Though we will begin and end the journey in the capital of Kathmandu, we will travel to remote villages such as Nalang (Dhading) and Ratanpur (Tanahu) where Westerners are rarely seen. En route to Ratanpur we will visit the magnificent old-world charm of Bandipur, a mountaintop village 143 km West of Kathmandu. 

Thanks to restorative agricultural practices developed by Ithaka, a growing number of Nepali farmers are engaged in climate friendly farming and agroforestry and have achieved significant successes in improving yields while reducing costs.  Travelers will learn how farmers have thrived, despite an embargo on mineral fertilizers, by creating their own well balanced, organic fertilizers using biochar, livestock urine and bones.  They will learn how these slow release fertilizers are made and applied and may even try their hand at ploughing with water buffalo! Tours through agroforestry projects will highlight newly created best practices for tree planting and review the basics of carbon credits for such projects. Those that join this journey will also learn how essential oils are produced using a Kon-Tiki biochar kiln.

Through collaborative workshops and shared lunches with local farmers, travelers will have plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas on farming techniques, ask questions and share stories. Evenings will include local music, storytelling and dancing while tending fires and making biochar. Low key morning treks will provide time to admire beautiful views of the Himalayas while seeing terraced farming up-close.

This first foray into educational travel will have a limited number of spots (minimum of 8; maximum of 12 participants).  We are particularly interested in travelers with an adventurous spirit that are willing to interact with local farmers by exchanging their experiences and questions related to climate farming and who are interested in helping us shape itineraries for future Ithaka Odysseys! 

If you are interested in further information please contact Kathleen Draper.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Follow-up article published

Biochar production opportunities for South East Asia

I had an article published in the inaugural issue of UTAR Agricultural Science Journal in January 2015. The followup article has now been published in the latest issue. You can access via the link to the RHS (eyes, right... "Links to my published articles")

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Rice Husk Char research in Malaysia

The title below links to the site where this paper can be downloaded.

Biochar Application in Malaysian Sandy and Acid Sulfate Soils: Soil Amelioration Effects and Improved Crop Production over Two Cropping Seasons

1, 2,3,4, 5, 1, 3 and 2,


The use of biochar as an agricultural soil improvement was tested in acid sulfate and sandy soils from Malaysia, cropped with rice and corn. Malaysia has an abundance of waste rice husks that could be used to produce biochar. Rice husk biochar was produced in a gasifier at a local mill in Kelantan as well as in the laboratory using a controlled, specially designed, top lift up draft system (Belonio unit). Rice husk biochar was applied once to both soils at two doses (2% and 5%), in a pot set up that was carried out for two cropping seasons. Positive and significant crop yield effects were observed for both soils, biochars and crops. The yield effects varied with biochar type and dosage, with soil type and over the cropping seasons. The yield increases observed for the sandy soil were tentatively attributed to significant increases in plant-available water contents (from 4%–5% to 7%–8%). The yield effects in the acid sulfate soil were likely a consequence of a combination of (i) alleviation of plant root stress by aluminum (Ca/Al molar ratios significantly increased, from around 1 to 3–5) and (ii) increases in CEC. The agricultural benefits of rice husk biochar application to Malaysian soils holds promise for its future use.