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Thread: Is biochar the sleeper solution?

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    Is biochar the sleeper solution?


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    Re: Is biochar the sleeper solution?

    How do you mean the sleeper solution?

    Isn't biochar the stuff that they've found across large parts of the Amazon rainforest and presumably introduced by the ancient civilisations that lived there? I have vague memories of articles talking of the improvement in fertility associated with it, even to this day, is that right? Too tired to google it at the moment but how do you make it? Again vague memories of a similar process to charcoal production or something, is that right?
    Stay in Northamptonshire - meadowviewcottages.co.uk

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    Re: Is biochar the sleeper solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxbox View Post
    How do you mean the sleeper solution?

    Isn't biochar the stuff that they've found across large parts of the Amazon rainforest and presumably introduced by the ancient civilisations that lived there? I have vague memories of articles talking of the improvement in fertility associated with it, even to this day, is that right? Too tired to google it at the moment but how do you make it? Again vague memories of a similar process to charcoal production or something, is that right?

    ‘Morning Foxbox

    Good questions, which I will attempt to answer - but bear in mind that I’m an observer, not a practitioner of this biochar caper.

    You’ll forgive me for the esoteric subject line: had to get the readers’ attention somehow

    If it works, I see it as a “sleeper” since it’s been around for yonks, just unrecognised in mainstream western agriculture. As to what its potential is, maybe to reduce the quantity of artificial fertilizers & water which crops seem to require.

    Correct about biochar being found in some parts of the Amazon, as terra preta (which I think translates as “black earth”). Believed to be responsible for the high fertility of these soils.

    I’m not aware of any conclusive explanation of how it works, but my understanding is that the humungous surface area of a piece of biochar creates a multitude of microclimates in which soil enhancing biota can live. A.f.a.i.k., the majority of trials support its beneficial effects, but not all - dunno why the disparity.

    It can be made in several ways; any matter which was at some time living is a potential feedstock. Some Aus companies have spent much time & money developing continuous production plants, producing biochar, syngas and process heat, but afaik, none have been commercial. I have a friend who has given up trying to persuade Tas. firms with suitable quantities of feedstock to give it a try.

    Instead, he’s gone the low-tech route & has supplied some links.

    This one gives a reasonable overview:

    http://www.biochar-journal.org/en/55uses.

    and includes this:

    http://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct...har-production

    My friend has followed the work of his German colleagues and built a number of these open cone-shaped kilns which are hand loaded. His further development has been to fit a large pipe into the base, thru which liquid manures can be pumped, quenching the fire and infusing fertiliser into the pores of the char.

    I am waiting curiously to see how he mechanises the loading and how he captures the heat energy which currently escapes.

    This link provides info on biochar in Ireland:

    http://www.pluschar.ie/

    This covers most of the same ground, with a bit of new info.

    Some info on potential markets for the char:

    http://fingerlakesbiochar.com/blog/

    And finally the biochar journal:

    http://www.biochar-journal.org/en

    It might all come to nothing - just a passing fad. On tother hand, it might just be a sleeper, and well worth keeping tabs on.

    JV

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