The Sonoma Biochar Initiative and the Sonoma Ecology Center are pleased to announce a Conservation Burn and Biochar Workshop at Circle Bar Ranch from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. on Friday Dec. 9th. For more information, GO HERE.
In collaboration with Weber Family Farms in Petaluma, The Sonoma Biochar Initiative and Sonoma Ecology Center are now offering buckets of biochar-enhanced chicken manure pellets as thank-you gifts for donations during a special fundraising campaign. The chicken manure is an OMRI-listed organic manure that is high in nitrogen and blended with biochar made from locally-sourced woody biomass.
This fantastic soil amendment has been pelletized for easy application and can be used anywhere in your garden. Two sizes are available: 5-gallon and 2-gallon buckets. We are asking for a suggested donation of $30 for the 5-gallon size, and $20 for the 2-gallon size. This special blend is available for pickup on Saturday mornings at the Sonoma Garden Park Fam Market, from 9 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., 19996 7th St E, Sonoma, CA 95476, or by special arrangement at Sonoma Ecology Center offices in the Sonoma Developmental Center.
We want to thank Mike Weber of Weber Family Farms for his generous donation of goods and services in support of this fundraiser.
For more information call Raymond Baltar at: 707 291-3240
The Synergy of Science and Industry: Biochar’s Connection to Ecology, Soil, Food and Energy
Registration is now open for what is sure to be a fantastic gathering of scientists, entrepreneurs, farmers, enlightened government officials, energy, soil, and fire geeks, agricultural change agents, NGO’s devoted to sustainable practices and carbon sequestration, backyard biochar tinkerer’s, and folks just interested what all the fuss about biochar is about.
Located at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center in beautiful Corvallis, Oregon, it is sure to be the biochar event of the year in the U.S.
Go to: http://usbi2016.org/ for more information.
The Sonoma County Biochar Project Presents:
Biochar Soil Management and Pasture Benefits
A Workshop and Demonstration
Date: July 25th, 2015 / Time: 10am to 2pm
At Swallow Valley Farm, 1100 Freestone Valley Ford Rd. Valley Ford, CA 94972
The Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI)recently received a formal invitation from CalFire to submit a full grant application to expand our Conservation Burn Training Program statewide. CalFire received 381 Concept Proposals, totaling over $135 million, from various entities and landowners throughout the state under California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds Grant Programs, and only a limited number of these received an invitation to submit a full proposal by April 30th. Unfortunately, only $21 million is available for funding for the fiscal year 2014/2015 and not all proposals will be successful. However, we strongly believe the conservation burn training program has so many merits as a greenhouse gas reduction strategy and co-benefits to the ecosystem with the resulting production of biochar that we feel our proposal stands a good chance of being funded.
SBI has also been working to advocate at the state level for large-scale, high-profile biochar field trials. We hope to start working soon with California Food and Agriculture Director Karen Ross’ office to coordinate a stakeholder meeting (including representatives from the academic, technology, agriculture, business, policy, energy, and biochar advocacy sectors) to come up with a roadmap to bring these essential field trials to fruition.
Several things really made an impression on me when I attended the US Biochar Symposium last October at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The first was the plenary speech by Dr. Johannes Lehmann, considered by many as the scientific “godfather” of the modern biochar movement. The eminent soil scientist from Cornell University emphasized one central theme throughout the talk: all biochar is not the same—in fact we should be using the plural term biochars when talking about it since no two biochars, made in different processes, at different temperatures, from different feedstocks, will have the same characteristics.
Dr. Lehmann cautioned those of us looking to commercialize biochar to be rigorous in providing a consistent product that will produce consistent results, and that consumers can trust. Most of us who have been in the biochar world for awhile have certainly heard of and seen many types of biochar, exhibiting many different characteristics. Biochar made as a byproduct from large gasifiers primarily producing energy, for example, can have a very different structure and ph level than that made from smaller continuous-feed or batch systems that are designed primarily to produce biochar.
So sourcing biochars from different producers may have markedly different results in similar soils. Since there have been positive, neutral, and even negative results using biochar in field trials much research still needs to be done—especially identifying which feedstocks, heated at which temperatures, will produce the optimal results in a given soil type, with which plants.
This work is underway all over the world, and we conducted our own Citizen Science experiment right here in Sonoma County this year. The results of this experiment using local gardeners willing to take part in a backyard field trial will be published early next year. SBI was also recently awarded a USDA Conservation Innovation grant that will allow us to produce large amounts of biochar locally and test it at three local farms: Green String, Oak Hill, and Swallow Valley.
My second big takeaway from the conference came at a virtual presentation given by Hans-Peter Schmidt titled “Novel Uses of Biochar”. Mr. Schmidt founded the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Cycling & Winegrowing in Switzerland and for 7 years has been adding biochar to vineyards and introducing it in other agricultural settings as well. The description of his talk at the conference explains what he calls the importance of integrating the “cascading use” of biochar in the farm workflow, and even in industial systems:
“In addition to the use of biochar as a soil amendment, there are an increasing number of ways to incorporate biochar into different eco- and industrial systems. Thus feeding biochar to livestock has numerous benefits not only for the animals, but it also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improves nutrient retention in animal manure. The use of biochar in building materials is just beginning to be studied but shows promise in the ability to insulate, decontaminate air, and provide odor and humidity control. Biochar as pillow filling to induce perfectly reposing sleep is just another way to benefit from biochar’s multiple qualities. There are more than 55 uses of biochar that can all be combined in cascades. All of these uses have in common that the biochar gets slowly charged with nutrients, gets oxidized and can finally be recycled as a soil conditioner.”
Much more information on the many, many ways to use biochar(s) before finally putting it in the ground is available here. Click on Ithaka Journal and scroll down to the section titled “55 Uses of Biochar”.
Lastly, I was particularly impressed by the work done by NASA scientist Doris Hamill in producing a high school curriculum on biochar. If you are interested in teaching a science segment with some positive content about using biochar as a strategy to help mitigate climate change and promote sustainable agriculture, she has done an amazing job of preparing everything you will need. It is open source, free, and available here.
If you’re interested in the current state of biochar research and state-of-the-art production technology, the place to be October 13th through 16th is Amherst, Massachusetts where biochar scientists, academics, technologists and entrepreneurs from around the world will gather and exchange ideas. The Symposium website is: http://symposium2013.pvbiochar.org/. Check it out!
Just a quick reminder that we are hosting a community meeting tonight at the Sonoma Grange, from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M., featuring Judith Harwood of the Mendocino Woody Biomass Working Group and Jason Aramburu of re:char. You can register online here: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=mausxnlab&oeidk=a07e7iq4sa59e54b840&oseq= or just come to the meeting. We are asking for donations at the door to help us offset costs: $15 general, $10 SBI members, and $5 students and seniors.
Bring your ideas and questions about biochar!
Sonoma Valley Grange
18627 Sonoma Highway
Boyes Hot Springs, CA 95416
We have just confirmed two keynote speakers for our next Community Meeting on June 12th at the Sonoma Grange.
First, Judith Harwood of the Mendocino Woody Biomass Working Group will be filling us in on their exciting activities and plans for a biochar production facility to be used for sustainable forestry management. Our second speaker will be Jason Aramburu of the re:char organization, a youthful and dynamic company that designs and builds cleaner, more efficient, biochar-producing cook stoves for villages in Africa and elsewhere, and also sells a biochar bagged product called Black Revolution. More information will follow but we wanted to let you know right away about this wonderful opportunity to learn about people creating positive changes in the world. Mark your calendars now!
SBI has been incredibly busy these last two months with grant proposals, educational outreach and Open Burn workshops. We have therefore postponed our May community meeting that was scheduled for May 8th until next month—June 12th. We will be featuring several great speakers—one of whom is Jason Aramburu of the re:char organization—and we will have lots of exciting news to share and ways you can become involved with our organization. Stay tuned for a newsletter that we will be sending out in early June, and be sure to mark June 12th on your calendars. The meeting will be at the Sonoma Grange, from 6:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.
We recommend you check out a meeting on May 8th instead in Santa Rosa on Navigating the New Economy.
When: Wednesday, May 8, 2013
7-9 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm
Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa
Tickets: General $10 in advance or $15 at door
Students $5 in advance or $10 at door