Biochar Workshop & Conservation Burn Training featuring Peter Hirst
The Sonoma Biochar Initiative and Sonoma Ecology Center are pleased to announce a Biochar workshop and Conservation Burn training to be held on Friday March 21st at Circle Bar Ranch, south of the town of Sonoma.
***The morning training (8 A.M. to 12 P.M. ) will focus on the conservation burn technique, and include both classroom and hands-on field training that will include the scientific theory behind the process, safety and permitting considerations, pile construction, burn management, and maximizing production of biochar.
***The afternoon workshop (1 P.M. to 5 P.M.) will focus on biochar itself, including why it works to improve soil, the benefits of using it in both animal and plant agriculture, how to properly condition it prior to use, and how to apply it.
For more information and to register, click here.
The Sonoma Biochar Initiative recently completed the Final Report on the 2013 Citizen Science Project, a study funded by the Mental Insight Foundation, that engaged and educated local gardeners in the use of biochar. Click on the Citizen Science link above and scroll down to download the full report.
SBI, in partnership with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the Farm Bureau, held a successful conservation burn workshop on Feb 14th for 40 participants at SRJC’s Shone Farm facility near Forestville.
Presented by SBI Board member Peter Hirst as a 4-hour hands-on, field and classroom training, participants learned how to conduct open burns that generate less pollution while also making biochar.
Sonoma Ecology Center Receives USDA Grant, Kicks Off Biochar Project
The Sonoma Ecology Center and the Sonoma Biochar Initiative have received $75,000 in support from the US Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program to establish this county’s first integrated biochar production system. These federal funds are being matched by $75,000 from the Sonoma County Water Agency and $83,000 of in-kind support from three local farms where the biochar will be applied. Other partners in this project include Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District and the North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council’s Cultivating Commerce initiative.
Biochar is specialized charcoal used as a soil amendment. It is produced through pyrolysis, a chemical process that reduces woody feedstocks to char and releases fuel gases that are burned to maintain the reaction and provide renewable energy. The remaining product is nearly pure carbon: biochar.
Biochar has been known for many years, but its wide adoption is just emerging in California and elsewhere. In recent years its benefits have been studied sufficiently to indicate a high probability of success in the integrated structure proposed here. The new Sonoma County Biochar Project is intended to prove locally available research results from elsewhere that biochar will build soil, conserve water, improve agricultural productivity, and improve forest practices — all while replacing greenhouse gas emissions with sequestered carbon in individual farming operations.
The Ecology Center’s new unit, called an “Adam Retort,” will be located at Swallow Valley Farm in western Sonoma County, where the team will produce biochar and apply it to onsite farm operations. As much as possible, biochar will be produced for on-farm use from woody resources available there. The biochar will also be applied at Green String Farm near Petaluma and Oak Hill Farm near Sonoma, allowing a full demonstration and evaluation of its impacts on varied Sonoma County agricultural production. SEC, GRRCD and NCRC&DC will carry out education and outreach regarding biochar to potential agricultural users throughout the area, allowing leading farmers and growers here to recognize the benefits of integrated biochar production and application.