Monthly Archives:March 2012

Biochar Used on Rooftop Gardens and More

Hello biochar fans! Hope you all are doing well. Here is this week’s biochar roundup.

Australian ABC affiliate 612 ABC in Brisbane ran a feature last week about biochar. The audio interview centers on the two day workshop that took place in Meleny where biochar was discussed in depth. The interview touches on the basics of biochar including how it works and its benefits. Interestigly, biochar is compared to regular charcoal that goes into the ground instead of into a BBQ. Give this one a listen.

Next up, the blog good.is featured a great article on biochar. Here’s an exerpt:

Biochar doesn’t feed plants directly, but it makes soil a friendly environment for biological life. It helps soil retain water and communities of microbes that benefit plants. It keeps nitrogen—necessary for plant growth—from leaching into ground water. Overall, it’s been shown to raise crop yields. This isn’t a secret: Amazonian farmers used this techniques thousands of years ago to prepare thin soils for planting.

The article discusses how increasingly popular biochar is becoming “from Kansas to Kenya”. You can view it here.

Social Activists are looking to turn waste into biochar in underdeveloped countries like Haiti. They have started a changemakers project (think Kickstarter with a humanitarian twist) to help them accomplish this goal. The idea is to assist with sanitation in areas that need help and thereby transform the waste into usable biochar. It’s win-win! You can follow their progress here.

Here is a great presentation about using biochar on rooftop gardens. The piece is called “Urban Gardens” and offers several in-depth rooftop gardening tips. The presentation discusses the benefits of rooftop gardening, including the tips on how to lay out your rooftop garden for best results. Also included is a handy guide on how to use biochar in almost any small garden. You can view the presentation here.

Finally this week, here is yet another group of biochar lovers who decided to put biochar to the test in their fields. Here’s an excerpt from their experiment:

“Our (very) preliminary results indicate a significant improvement in yield, root production and leaf colour for radishes, garlic, onions, lettuces and pack choi (see photos below). We do not yet have a big enough dataset to give you conclusive results, but keep watching this space for new results.”

Follow their progress here.

Bonus link: If you’re in Seattle and want to meet other biochar aficionados, make sure you check out this upcoming biochar stove workshop on March 31. Full event details can be found here.

An Interview with the Founder of Sonoma Biochar Initiative, Plus Char Stoves and Factories in Finland

Happy Biochar Day, everyone. Here is this week’s biochar weekly roundup.

KRCB, a public television network in California, featured a series of interviews with Raymund Gallian, the founder of Sonoma Biochar Initiative. In the interviews, Gillian discusses how important it is to remove carbon from the air and get it back into the ground:

When you think of traditional charcoal, it’s a very dirty process. Plus the end result is used as a fuel which ultimately means that all of that carbon goes back into the air. What we’re trying to do here is get all that carbon out of the air and back in the ground where it belongs. Conceptually, we’ve been doing the opposite for the last 200 years to ill effect: mining carbon from the ground and dumping it into the air and the ocean, which is causing us no end of problems.

Also in the interview, Gallian explains exactly how biochar is made and how it can help all aspects of the environment, especially its impact on the climate. Informative and entertaining! Bonus link: if you’re curious to learn more about Raymund, check out this YouTube video.

Next up, we stumbled upon this blog completely devoted to biochar stoves, lovingly referred to as TLUDs (short for Top Lit Updraft). There are lots of great images that show biochar producing stoves from all stages of construction, and across all countries.

Speaking of TLUD, here is a concise explanation of how a TLUD works. According to that article:

Biochar-producing stoves are not yet a mature technology, and indeed, the emissions from the few designs that have been developed have not yet been systematically tested. However, there are good reasons to believe that they will be as clean as or cleaner than other gasifier stoves that do not retain the biochar but combust it.

This study (pdf) from the end of last year was featured last week on a composting blog. The study discusses how biochar can be used to correct the acidity of soil, which is an important issue in Hawaii where monitoring the pH balance of soil is critically important for crops. Here’s the summary of the study:

Soil acidity is a serious constraint for crop production in many regions of the world, Hawaii included. Liming is the conventional remedy, yet lime is costly and may not be available in some places. Our research showed that biochar, a by-product of bio-fuels production, could replace lime, at least partially, in alleviating soil acidity. A combination of moderate application rates of biochar (e.g., 2 to 4%) with lime (an equivalent of exchangeable acidity or about 2 tons/ha for most Hawaii acid soils) could significantly improve soil quality and increase crop growth.

And here is some interesting news for any readers we may have from Finland: the first biochar factory is being planed for completion in early 2013 in Ristiina, a city in eastern Finland. The factory will cost around 40m euro and will produce around 200,000 tons of biochar per year. According to the article, “Biochar pellets could be used in power plant currently using coal without making major investments and it could replace half of the coal used today. Coal-fired powered power stations are currently operating in six cities in Finland. Helsinki is already preparing to replace its coal power stations with renewable energy.”

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!