North Coast Biochar is Now Available!

Written by admin on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

The Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI), a non-profit organization that owns and manages the FSC Certified Usal Forest on the Lost Coast of northern California, is now producing high-carbon, low-ash biochar from surplus tan oak culled during forest restoration activities.  Production started on June 1, and this high-quality soil amendment is being marketed under the name North Coast Biochar.

Sold in 1 or 1.5 cubic yard totes, this product is made using a Biochar Solutions pyrolysis unit that is specifically designed to make biochar at the middle heat range of 500 to 700 degrees C which is considered an ideal temperature range to maximize biochar’s adsorptive qualities.  By purchasing this product you will be helping to support three non-profit organizations (RFFI, Sonoma Biochar Initiative, & Sonoma Ecology Center) working to promote sustainable agriculture and forestry practices. For more information, call Raymond Baltar at 707 291-3240.

Piercy Plant5270

 

Biochar-Enhanced Chicken Manure Pellets Now Available

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

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.

Pellets small

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

USBI 2016 Biochar Conference: Save the Date Aug. 22nd – 25th

Written by admin on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

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.

 

Sonoma County Biochar Project Workshop and Demonstration

Written by admin on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

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

For more information, click here.

SBI Selected to Submit a Full CalFire Project Application

Written by admin on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized

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.

Community Meeting Reminder—Tonight

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

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

SBI receives P. G. & E “Power Your Community” Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative was recently awarded a $1000 “Power Your Community” grant from our local utility, P. G. & E. This money is being put to immediate use in helping us purchase a large quantity of biochar for local field trials in Sonoma and Napa counties. We sincerely thank P. G. & E. for helping us realize our goal of installing biochar demonstration plots to gather data on its effectiveness in local farm settings.

All Power Labs Tour

Written by raybiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

On Monday 10/24 our Biochar Working Group, consisting of SBI members and Sonoma County agencies, traveled to All Power Labs in Berkeley to review their famous gasifier-generators. I attended a workshop there a year ago, and was impressed then with their new Power Pallet, a computer controlled gasifier tied to a 10 KW generator. An elegance of positive feedback, once fully cycling the 700C exhaust from the engine heats the pyrolysis chamber, heating the biomass and rending the carbon from the energy gasses, which are then filtered and cycled back across the hot char, both cleaning the gas and adding carbon, for cycling as fuel to the engine. A very small amount of char and ash remains. The ultimate sense of system efficiency is reflected in the total exhaust, being what appears to be only warm water vapor. APL is also known for the base unit of this, the GEK, or Gasifier Experimenters Kit. Up until the popularity of the Power Pallet focused their energies, they also had the BEK, or Biochar Experimenters Kit. They are down to their last, in house, BEK, somewhat dusty from inattention.

Now, a year later, they have a 20 KW Power Pallet. Several finished units waited with tags for far flung destinations, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia.  Out in the yard was the next prototype, a Godzilla among lizards, the 100 KW unit. They don’t call it Godzilla, but it fits, if only in a shipping container. It is project for the University of Minnesota, funded by DOE. One partner in the grant is Cummins Diesel, so that is the power plant. They will have to make some modifications to the process, as they usually work with a sparked engine, with visions of turbo-charged V8’s for round two. The entire package will be shipped, and active, in a 20′ shipping container. One quarter engine, one quarter gasifier, and one half biomass storage and handling. The scheme in all these units is ease of deployability.
So we were there not only to marvel at innovations in gasifiers, but to connect with and revive a sense of mission related to biochar. APL, especially founder Jim Mason, was intrigued by our efforts in Sonoma County, and the national presence the USBI conference will bring to the area. The sum of our meeting, extended by mutual interest, was that now was the time to take a closer, systemic, look at biochar production. And showing that innovative spirit again, they roughed out a design for a biochar maker, that just might be a mutual project. With all feeling jazzed at the possibilities for collaboration, we left with sense that, like organizing the conference, biochar is on its way, out west.
Ray Gallian

Governor Brown Signs the Renewable Energy Equity Act!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

The following newsflash from CalCan could have significant implications for the widespread installation of certain biochar production facilities in rural California:
On October 8, the Renewable Energy Equity Act (SB 489) became law in California. This CalCAN-sponsored bill makes it easier for farmers and ranchers to develop small-scale, distributed renewable energy projects by allowing them to easily and effectively connect to the grid. The Renewable Energy Equity Act will help California farmers and food processors lower their energy costs, produce homegrown clean, renewable energy and reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

We are deeply grateful for the leadership of the author, Senator Lois Wolk, and her very capable staff for understanding the importance of this bill for California farmers and for the state’s renewable energy goals. Two of CalCAN’s farmer advisors have been leaders on the bill – Russ Lester and Jenny Lester-Moffitt at Dixon Ridge Farms  have led the field with innovations in producing heat and electricity by gasifying walnut shells. Justin Malan (Ecoconsult) and Karen Mills (California Farm Bureau) also made this victory possible.

New England Biochar in the News

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that $225,875 is being awarded to four entities in Hawaii through the Conservation Innovation Grant.  One of these is a biochar project involving SBI member Peter Hirst of New England Biochar.

Whispering Winds Bamboo <http://www.whisperingwindsbamboo.com/> Cooperative Corporation, an organic bamboo timber, teak and produce farm in Hana, Maui, was awarded funds to convert bamboo timber waste to biochar using a farm-scale Adam-Retort, of which New England Biochar is the exclusive American supplier.  The grant was made to demonstrate that appropriately sized farm based charcoal kilns can be cost effective, income generating and fertility enhancing to a farm operation. Total sequestered carbon will also be calculated to show how much carbon footprint offset is made by the adopted technology during the project term.

The New England Biochar Adam-Retort is the unit that SBI and others are hoping to bring to the Sonoma Valley to support similar enterprises here.

“We are pleased to provide this federal funding to help these innovative projects to help our farming community,” said Mr. Angel Figueroa, NRCS Director of the Pacific Islands Area.  “These new techniques can be adapted by others.”

Peter will be in Hawaii in January as a principle presenter at the Maui Aloha Aina Body & Soil Conference <http://www.mauialohaaina.org> at Kumulani Farm in Olinda  and working with Whispering Winds on their project.

Before his arduous duty in the Islands, however, Peter will be visiting us here in late October and will be spending some time in the Bay Area before traveling to Chile to install an Adam-Retort for the Instituto de la Patagonia at Magellan University in Punta Arenas, Chile.


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