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Biochar

Nov 3, 2009 by Jacoby Young | Story Popularity: 5


Sorry for anyone who is following me, I have had a bit of a lull in updates recently. I feel that I am not staying relevant with the current trend of politics with the furlough fridays issue. I stay in somewhat of a rural area and I have recently moved to a new farm.

Well I wanted to write that I have been exposed to biochar and using it in organic agriculture. What is biochar? Biochar is a fine-grained charcoal high in organic carbon and largely resistant to decomposition. It is produced from pyrolysis (heating with no oxygen) of plant and waste feedstocks. What are the benefits of biochar? In addition to offsetting carbon.

* Enhanced plant growth
* Suppressed methane emission
* Reduced nitrous oxide emission (estimate 50%) (see 5.10 below)
* Reduced fertilizer requirement (estimate 10%)
* Reduced leaching of nutrients
* Stored carbon in a long term stable sink
* Reduces soil acidity: raises soil pH (see 5.01 below)
* Reduces aluminum toxicity
* Increased soil aggregation due to increased fungal hyphae
* Improved soil water handling characteristics
* Increased soil levels of available Ca, Mg, P, and K
* Increased soil microbial respiration
* Increased soil microbial biomass
* Stimulated symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes
* Increased arbuscular mycorrhyzal fungi
* Increased cation exchange capacity



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  1. rob kinslow says:

    Mahalo Jacoby for moving the conversation along on bio-char. Doesn't bio-char both offset and provide positive carbon sequestration? How can folks use bio-char in their backyards as an adjunct to composting?

  2. Jacoby Young says:

    I believe the best way, at least the way we were using it on the tea farm, was in addition to compositing. We would sift all the smaller pieces into the compost. I would say at a 1:5 char to compost ratio.

  3. Jacoby Young says:

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-vine/76943/yes-biochar-really-might-be-magical Here is another great article about it!

  4. rob kinslow says:

    What kind of process do you use to pyrolyze it?

  5. Jacoby Young says:

    When I was working on the farm we got it from a couple sources. Our main source was from a baker who had a closed oven at the farmers market, this was a little chunky but worked excellently. The other was in the form of flakes that was kind of an experimental donation, with the promise that we collect data. Since I have left the farm, the farmer has built his own oven. http://washedashore.com/eggsntea/2010/08/biochar-from-kiln-to-pit/ Photos here. You can also read some of his incredible notes on ag in Hawaii.

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