The Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI), recently completed the Final Report on their 2013 Citizen Science Project, a study funded by the Mental Insight Foundation, that engaged and educated local gardeners in the use of biochar. SBI, a project of the Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), patterned the study after The Big Biochar Experiment, a similar citizen science study conducted by Oxford University scientist Cecile Girardin.

SEC scientist Rebecca Lawton was retained to design a photo monitoring protocol to measure the growth of plants in a biochar-treated garden plot vs a control plot. 233 5-gallon bags containing a 50/50 biochar/compost blend were distributed to 183 participants over a two-month period in Spring 2013. Participants were instructed how to prepare the plots, to use the same plants in each plot, and to take photographs of each plot over a four-month period and send them to SEC for analysis.

Two interns assisted with data collection and analysis: Sonoma State student Donald Osborne and Sonoma Valley High School student Autumn McElroy.

Overall, the biochar-treated plots showed increased plant growth of between 135% and 143% over the control plots, depending on the month the plants were measured.

To download the full report, click on the link below.
Final Citizen Science Project_2_17_14_Pub

To download the post-project followup survey, click on the link below:
Citizen_Science_Survey Data_Final_1_27.