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Biochar and natural farming

  • 27-04-2018 11:32am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    There's been various posts about the developing work and awareness of using biochar in agriculture scattered on various different threads on boards.
    So maybe it's better that it has a thread of it's own.

    If you don't know what biochar is, it's charcoal made from any source of carbon cooked in an oxygen deficient environment that is then used either in feedstock for animals or directly as a soil amendment.
    It works as a sponge soaking up nutrients, bacteria, liquid and then allowing them (bacteria) to grow in an otherwise hostile environment. It provides a refuge of sorts.

    There's tons of information on biochar on the web and it's just about to take off in mainstream agriculture on this side of the world in the coming years/decades. I've no doubt.
    The world leaders in biochar development at this stage seem to be the U.S., Australia, China, Finland and Switzerland.

    Maybe some posters can post their experiences of it here in the future.

    But I'll start off the thread with some case studies from the Pacific northwest of America.

    http://www.pnwbiochar.org/case-studies/

    That link for the case studies is part of a Pacific northwest soil atlas website that will guide growers as to what biochar is most suitable for their land. Just click on the menu bar to go back.
    But it gives an idea of the development of biochar in the U.S.

    The mantra behind biochar is that at the moment it's a ground based movement led by farmer growers who are not afraid to experiment. Rather than the top down approach by industry.

    So from an intensely top down led agricultural country i declare thread open.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,854 ✭✭✭ carrollsno1


    Whereabouts in Australia is it being piloted do you know?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Whereabouts in Australia is it being piloted do you know?

    All from the web. But a good few places as far as I can see.

    https://www.byronbiochar.com.au/biochar-gone-to-the-cows-you-bet/

    Doug Pow from western Australia seems to be a world leader on knowledge of it at this stage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    So a few pictures of my accidental non intended use of biochar.
    This is a field that was reseeded in September 2015.
    This particular spot had bushes and branches heaped up and then set on fire.
    There was charcoal left over after the fire. Then fym was spread on the entire field and it was ploughed in.
    The soil pH of the field came back at 6.5. Tested last month. I haven't tested this particular spot as my tester is broken.

    But even nearly 3 years on there's a difference in grass growth and grass colour towards the rest of the field and the whole field gets the same treatment.
    It's a pity there's a dung pat in the middle of this spot from the last grazing but you'll have to take my word for it that there's been a noticeable difference in this spot all along.
    (I actually posted pics a few weeks ago minus the pat).

    Anyway pictures. I think you should be able to see the difference.

    http://imgur.com/ccFa5ue

    http://imgur.com/Ll12uCp


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,854 ✭✭✭ carrollsno1


    All from the web. But a good few places as far as I can see.

    https://www.byronbiochar.com.au/biochar-gone-to-the-cows-you-bet/

    Doug Pow from western Australia seems to be a world leader on knowledge of it at this stage.


    Googled him there ill see is he nearby.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Googled him there ill see is he nearby.

    You'll be giving lectures on it soon on your return here.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,854 ✭✭✭ carrollsno1


    You'll be giving lectures on it soon on your return here.

    Ill have to return first though


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,942 ✭✭✭ charolais0153


    So a few pictures of my accidental non intended use of biochar.
    This is a field that was reseeded in September 2015.7
    This particular spot had bushes and branches heaped up and then set on fire.
    There was charcoal left over after the fire. Then fym was spread on the entire field and it was ploughed in.
    The soil pH of the field came back at 6.5. Tested last month. I haven't tested this particular spot as my tester is broken.

    But even nearly 3 years on there's a difference in grass growth and grass colour towards the rest of the field and the whole field gets the same treatment.
    It's a pity there's a dung pat in the middle of this spot from the last grazing but you'll have to take my word for it that there's been a noticeable difference in this spot all along.
    (I actually posted pics a few weeks ago minus the pat).

    Anyway pictures. I think you should be able to see the difference.

    http://imgur.com/ccFa5ue

    http://imgur.com/Ll12uCp

    How do u plan on doing it on a more widespread basis?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    How do u plan on doing it on a more widespread basis?

    That plan is still in the development stage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Just after reading this and I had to include the link to the article in this thread.

    Coming to Electric Picnic this year. :p
    Biochar urinals.
    I bet there's loads of farmers in Laois who would be interested in it. ;)

    Article about a large scale wee plan in Australia.
    http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-05/festival-loos-provide-a-wee-bit-of-help-for-soil-research/9727606?pfmredir=sm


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Here's a peek inside Cornell University's Biochar research facility.

    It's a 360 degree view of their pyrolysis kiln with various clips explaining the concept of what is happening.

    https://www.climatehubs.oce.usda.gov/hubs/northeast/project/cornell-biochar-and-compost-facilities


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Still no pics of myself or anyone else making biochar in this thread. ;) :pac:

    I read this, this evening. It perfectly sums up why there's such an interest in biochar in Australia atm.

    http://pobblebonk-farm.com/bio-char/


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,371 MickeyShtyles


    Still no pics of myself or anyone else making biochar in this thread. ;) :pac:

    I read this, this evening. It perfectly sums up why there's such an interest in biochar in Australia atm.

    http://pobblebonk-farm.com/bio-char/

    Come here to me. We’ve 2/3rds of a 55 gallon drum here sunk into the ground for burning scrap timber and the like.
    If ya slowly burnt some timber with low temperature, would ya come back with charcoal/biochar?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Come here to me. We’ve 2/3rds of a 55 gallon drum here sunk into the ground for burning scrap timber and the like.
    If ya slowly burnt some timber with low temperature, would ya come back with charcoal/biochar?

    No experience now so just thinking.

    You could start a burn of some timber in the bottom and then pile in the rest.
    Then in a while put a cover over the top to stop any more oxygen getting in and let it cook in it's own heat.
    And or alternatively quench the fire with water before it burns into ash.
    Don't use any timber that has preservatives on it though.

    All you want is black charcoal.
    Then you have to 'inoculate' it with animal manure, fish fert, seaweed fert, urea or whatever concoction your having yourself before using in the soil. Otherwise it'll draw nutrients from the soil for a few years and your plants will look goosed and you'll be giving out about 'Say my name'.

    But yea there's some people using barrels or kilns like what you'd be doing.

    There's even ones in the U.S. open burning piles of brush by using top down methods of burning. That is start the fire on the very top of the pile and let it burn down.
    Then there's no smoke and the whole pile doesn't go up in one big whoof like if you started it at the bottom. It'd want to be a hell of a dry pile though. And even then you still have to quench it with water before it burns to ash.

    Really though the best is cooked at high temperatures and if it's not quenched with water after and dry it should sound like broken glass when you drop it on each other.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    An article from research gate explaining the problems and difficulty in getting biochar more mainstream in agriculture in Europe.
    It seems most interest comes from small-scale farmers.
    Note the European map showing locations of research into biochar as well.

    https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Exponential-increment-of-the-number-of-studies-on-biochar-appearing-in-literature-only_fig1_279179431

    To further prove the idea of interest only from the small scale farmers.
    Here's a website of a farmer in South Gower, Swansea, Wales.
    He uses one horse for draft work and delivers the veg with said horse.
    Edit: I think he may have a second horse.
    He also seems to have a problem with subs. My kind of guy.

    http://www.soil-carbon-regeneration.co.uk/swansea-biochar/


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name




  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    A project looking at 'Formiguer soils' in Catalonia, Spain.
    Man made soils on man made terraces.

    http://www.landw.uni-halle.de/prof/bodenbiogeochemie/forschung/projekte/2401418_3079816/


  • Registered Users Posts: 512 ✭✭✭ timfromtang


    Hi Folks,
    I am a stranger here on the farming forum (be kind..........)
    Usually I post on the forestry Forum.
    There are a large number of small plots of forestry on farms nationwide.
    Biochar making would seem an ideal way of adding value to the thinning produce of these plantations.
    I am a small forester, we planted our 100 acre farm, I make firewood, planks and charcoal currently, we would have some charcoal fines available for folk who wish to experiment.
    tim


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Hi Folks,
    I am a stranger here on the farming forum (be kind..........)
    Usually I post on the forestry Forum.
    There are a large number of small plots of forestry on farms nationwide.
    Biochar making would seem an ideal way of adding value to the thinning produce of these plantations.
    I am a small forester, we planted our 100 acre farm, I make firewood, planks and charcoal currently, we would have some charcoal fines available for folk who wish to experiment.
    tim
    We're always kind on the farming forum. :)

    What species of timber do you use and roughly where abouts are you in the country?


  • Registered Users Posts: 512 ✭✭✭ timfromtang


    We're always kind on the farming forum. :)

    What species of timber do you use and roughly where abouts are you in the country?


    Tang is in the midlands perhaps 19km north of Athlone,
    We are using Hardwood thinnings for our charcoal at the moment, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, alder, cherry, hazel, rowan etc
    pm me if you wish a chat
    tim


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Just dropping in a few tweets.

    Kathleen T. Draper (@Biocharro) Tweeted:
    Peter Burgess describing the Fresh Start project making renewable energy and biochar for horticulture industry. https://t.co/dB8bbx6ptb https://twitter.com/Biocharro/status/1009092043161980928?s=17

    Kathleen T. Draper (@Biocharro) Tweeted:
    Adam O'Toole discussing the CarboFertil project in Norway. #2018biocharstudytour https://t.co/J59ndGefzC https://twitter.com/Biocharro/status/1009083400932773888?s=17

    Kathleen T. Draper (@Biocharro) Tweeted:
    Kathy Dawsen talks about biochar feed & dung beetles in Australia at 2018 Biochar study tour. https://t.co/kSQMwbIgEY https://twitter.com/Biocharro/status/1009068305754148865?s=17

    Final one not about agriculture but the construction side of using biochar.

    The Biochar Journal (@BiocharJournal) Tweeted:
    High silica biochars improve concrete properties. https://t.co/TqyEkgM9iR https://twitter.com/BiocharJournal/status/1008930311575687169?s=17


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Research project using biochar in Finland.
    It's in it's 9th year now. It seems Finland hasn't escaped the drought this year either.

    https://www.researchgate.net/project/Long-term-effects-of-biochar-as-a-soil-amendment-material-in-boreal-agriculture


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 12,038 Mod ✭✭✭✭ blue5000


    Tang is in the midlands perhaps 19km north of Athlone,
    We are using Hardwood thinnings for our charcoal at the moment, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, alder, cherry, hazel, rowan etc
    pm me if you wish a chat
    tim

    PM sent.

    If the seat's wet, sit on yer hat, a cool head is better than a wet ar5e.



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Dinah Liversidge (@DinahLiversidge) Tweeted:
    Delighted to report that using our biochar in our hanging baskets has halved the water they're using. #biochar #gardening #savewater https://t.co/Z0lUnTEAIS https://twitter.com/DinahLiversidge/status/1014959067993985026?s=17


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Farming families in India using Akha stoves and selling or using Biochar.

    https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/enriching-soil-biochar-1599016


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Goofy students in Peru.


    UniversityOfVictoria (@uvic) Tweeted:
    @UVicENVI Students on a field school in Peru are learning about Biochar - the most sustainable soil ever seen! Check out this great video from #UVic student Mike Graeme. https://t.co/JGgy6ZlGxX https://twitter.com/uvic/status/1015292707860721664?s=17


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Science figuring out the role and length of time of stability of black carbon (charcoal ) in the grand scheme of the carbon cycle on this planet we call Earth.

    https://phys.org/news/2018-07-charcoal-major-piece-global-carbon.html


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    "For me I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you." - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    https://medium.com/@Biochar2018/editorial-biochar-101-why-this-matters-2f3bbd9b59c


  • Registered Users Posts: 972 ✭✭✭ 148multi


    Do you find any difference in area's treated with char to areas not treated, during drought.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    148multi wrote: »
    Do you find any difference in area's treated with char to areas not treated, during drought.

    I haven't used it yet. Well not on purpose.

    I have areas where I open burned piles of timber clearing ditches where there was char left over and they were ploughed in and the field reseeded and those areas show a definite green growth still.

    There's tons of scientific papers on it now to the point where no more are needed anymore. It's all improvements.

    The commonly quoted figure is a 1% increase in soil carbon is equal to 20,000 gallons water per acre.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,554 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    Dealing with abandonment of farmland in Nepal.
    Establishing forest gardens. Getting a carbon credit payment system established.
    Trying to keep the forest garden system productive by establishing a family triad overview system.
    Using Biochar as a means of locking that harvested carbon from the atmosphere.
    It's all in here.

    Some may find the article interesting.
    It's a long read.
    https://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/88


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