Posts Tagged ‘Biochar’

Citizen Science Project Reaches Goal!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News

The Citizen Science Project reached its goal today of distributing 200 free bags of biochar and compost to gardeners around the Bay Area. Attendees at the Sonoma Garden Park Plant Sale put us over the top and we now have now given out 204 bags—-with more going out to Thomas Page Elementary School and a Daily Acts project on Monday. We want to thank everyone who has agreed to take part in this first-of-its-kind project in the U.S., as well as all the volunteers that helped us reach and exceed our goal. We also want to thank the Mental Insight Foundation and Sonoma Compost for their important contributions to this project. We do still have a few bags left so you can still take part if you contact us by signing up this week on the Citizen Science page. We will contact you about when and where to pick up.

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55 Uses for Biochar

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Initiative News

Here is another fantastic article from Hans-Peter Schmidt’s Ithaka Journal:

55 Uses for Biochar

Hans-Peter makes a great case for first using biochar in at least one other way before putting it in the ground for agricultural use:

“Biochar is much too valuable for it to be just worked into the soil without having it used at least once for more beneficial purposes – whether as storage for volatile nutrients, as an adsorber in functional clothing, as insulation in the building industry, as energy storage in batteries, as a filter in a sewage plant, as a silage agent or as a feed supplement. Such uses can be followed by use in a farmer’s slurry pit or in a sewage plant, before being composted. It should only be worked into the soil at the end of this “cascade”, helping to create Terra Preta.”

This piece is filled with ideas for entrepreneurs! Since we believe biochar is most valuable and beneficial when used in an agricultural setting, keeping biochar in a closed loop cycle on the farm (or a number of nearby farms) may be the highest and best approach. If first used as a feed or bedding supplement for chickens or cows, or in a farmer’s slurry pit, then composting the resultant material and manure, biochar becomes inoculated with nutrients as part of an integrated system—reducing these costs.

SBI in 2013

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Initiative News

With our successful national conference now behind us, SBI’s Advisory Board has been hard at work developing strategies to build on the local excitement and knowledge gained at the event, and getting as much biochar into the ground as possible. We are poised to have a major growth spurt in our outreach and education activities in 2013. We also have plans to expand our field testing activities and to acquire and build  the first biochar production facility in the North Bay.

Here are a few of the exciting projects we are working on:

Four grant applications have been written in 2012 and will have been submitted by Dec. 17th. We should know by early 2013 if any have been funded.

We supplied biochar to a UC Davis monitored vineyard field trial in Oakville, California, and are working with David Cook of Cook Vineyard Management on a field trial to start soon in the Sonoma Valley.

We supplied biochar to 30 individuals or organizations (including all of the elementary school garden programs) in the Sonoma Valley as part of a hands-on educational outreach effort called the Citizen Science Project. We are hoping to receive a grant to expand the program to 200 in 2013.

We supplied biochar to Tara Firma Farm and Greenstring Farm in Petaluma, where they are using it in their chicken operations. We are looking forward to building ongoing strong relationships with these and other food providers practicing sustainable agriculture techniques.

We supplied biochar to the Pollinator Pal Program in Sonoma Valley.

We are planning a number of hands-on events in 2013 where the public can come to learn about making biochar and why it is an important soil amendment.

We are expanding the capacity and communication outreach of our organization and just published our first Newsletter.

There are other efforts  as well that I will expand on in upcoming posts, so stay tuned.

Raymond

The Science of Biochar

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General

More than a decade ago now, renowned soil scientist Wim Sombroek (1934-2003) brought to light the impressive performance of dark soils in the Amazon Basin. He along with fellow early scientists Johannes Lehmann, Dirse C. Kern, Bruno Glaser, William I. Woods among others help to establish the potential of what we now know as biochar.

Since those early days, scientific studies have continually been conducted to better understand the mechanisms that create the various observed qualities of biochar and carbon rich soils as well as production methodologies, climate effects, nutrient cycles and many other aspects of biochar.

The 2012 US Biochar Conference is pleased to present some of the newest findings conducted by research institutions from around the world. Some of the presenters and topics covered include:

·       Daniela Busch will summarize four test procedures, which allow the short quality assessment for different biochars.

·       Kirk J. Czymmek evaluates the effect of biochar on plant growth as well as root and biochar associated microbial communities.

·       Rivka Fidel will explore the acid-base properties of three different biochars made using various techniques.

·       Dr. Ines Vogel examines system solutions applying regional produced biochar substrates to enhance soil biological activity in order to accelerate pollutants degradation.

·       Caroline A. Masiello demonstrates a potential unintended consequence of biochar soil amendment is a reduction in the ability of microbes to communicate with each other.

·       Daoyuan Wang researched the effectiveness of biochar as an amendment in various soil types and production parameters.

·       Daniela Busch looks at the risk evaluation with bioindicators is a cost efficient and short way for detecting toxic compounds in biochars.

·       Sunny Castillo describes the results of the different phases effect of Biochar on microbial activity subject to freeze-thaw cycles, and measure plant response on soils amended with different biochar rates.

·       Zuolin Liu measures hydraulic conductivity and soil water potential of biochar-sand mixture to better constrain infiltration of water into soil and plant–available water.

·       Engil Isadora Pujol Pereira evaluates a variety of biochar feedstock on N cycling and nitrous oxide emissions.

·       Kurt Spokas presents data on sorbed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) observed on various biochars.

Be sure to check back at the US Biochar Conference website (http://www.2012.biochar.us.com) to see updates on the papers and findings that will be presented at the conference this year.

Charles Berstresser

SBI Applies for Conservation Innovation Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Initiative News

 

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI), in partnership with Southern Sonoma County Resource Conservation District as lead applicant, recently submitted an application for federal funding under USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Innovation Grant program.  The proposed project features a launch of biochar production from local biomass, field trials with local farmers, and education and outreach on the multiple benefits of biochar including improving soil tilth, agricultural yields, and renewable energy. The technology used to produce biochar would be the award-winning Adam Retort, licensed and manufactured in North America by New England Biochar.

If funded, the grant would allow development of best practices in the production and application of biochar, and would facilitate federal program delivery under the Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Insurance Program serving farmers, ranchers and the community-at-large. This project showcases another excellent, local example of public/private partnership to leverage private, local and public funding in a demonstration project.

The grant features strong partnerships focusing on sustainable ag practices, ag economy, jobs, carbon sequestration, and renewable energy.  Partners include: Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma County Water Agency, Regional Climate Protection Authority, Sotoyome Resource Conservation District and the North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council and participating farmers/ranchers. If awarded, project would commence fall 2012.

SBI has garnered local and statewide recognition and support in it’s efforts to introduce biochar at a practical, community scale from Senator Noreen Evans, Assemblymember Jared Huffman, Sonoma County’s 1st District Supervisor, Valerie Brown, Sonoma councilmember Laurie Gallian and Rohnert Park councilmember Jake Mackenzie.  SBI is also receiving national recognition as the organizer and host of the 2012 USBI National Biochar Conference to be held July 29th through August 1st at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park.

SBI Advocates Cap and Trade Investments in Biochar for Agriculture

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Initiative News

In a recent letter to Assemblymembers Perez, Blumenfield, Gordon and Feuntes and Senators Steinberg, Leno, Simitian and Kehoe, initiated by CalCAN, the California Climate and Agriculture Network, the Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI) urged that biochar, a climate response tool and a material to benefit agriculture, be considered for investment under the cap-and-trade fee revenue that help meet the objectives of AB 32 climate response law.  SBI strongly supports investing a portion of the fee revenues in agricultural activities that reduce GHG emissions and actively sequester carbon.  Such investments in our communities can create jobs and spur innovation.

With the Air Resources Board moving forward with the first auctions of allowances in the summer and fall of 2012, the Legislature must appropriate auction revenues.  It is crucial that discussions continue to determine how best to invest these funds to meet the goals of AB 32 and to provide the greatest economic benefits. There must be urgent considerations about how best to allocate these resources.

The Governor’s budget and the Assembly Speaker’s bill, AB 1532, outline cap-and-trade fee funding areas, including funding to “reduce (GHG) emissions associated with water use and supply, land and natural resource conservation and management, and sustainable agriculture.”  Though not specified, we would add the imperative of capturing existing atmospheric carbon through biomass, processing it into biochar and sequestering it productively in agriculture.

Any legislative appropriation for a portion of the funds should go to agriculture in the first years of the program. A delay will mean lost opportunities to achieve GHG emission reductions in the food and farm sector and to sequester carbon beneficially within agriculture.

Potential GHG emission reductions in agriculture are substantial, and sequestering biochar carbon can help.  Biochar production is an innovative renewable biomass energy source, aids on-farm conservation measures, offsets some fossil fuel inputs, reduces biomass handling transportation emissions and sequesters carbon that helps build soil. Funding carbon sequestration efforts will aid in the preservation of farmland and the institution of the family farmer. With the right policies including support for biochar, agriculture can meaningfully reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, sequester significant volumes of carbon, and be a net positive contributor to the goals of AB 32.

The climate solutions that California agriculture has to offer can be realized with investments that overcome barriers for innovative producers who achieve real GHG emission reductions and sequester significant volumes of carbon. The sooner this potential is recognized and unleashed, the greater the ability of the state’s agricultural sector to provide needed climate solutions.

Raymund Gallian

Chairman

Sonoma Biochar Initiative

 

 

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