• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • r ranson
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
  • Carla Burke
  • Leigh Tate
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler
  • Mike Barkley

Anyone use biochar on a large scale?

 
pollinator
Posts: 344
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
54
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
By large, I'm talking about thousands of pounds over an acre or more.  If so, have you made any observations on its effects?
 
Posts: 4
Location: VA
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Are you putting it out dry or are you inoculating it somehow?

The most I have done was about 300 pounds an acre that was added to our chicken beading and composted.  I did not see any short term differences between composted bio char and compost.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1511
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
389
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can't answer your question directly; I have not used it in a mass area broadcast. But I'm very interested in the responses you will get.

If it's raw, unwashed char, you may get a temporary potassium boost, a temporary pH trend toward basic, and some other nutrients being locked into the char as it is colonized and turns into biochar. (Others here can speak with more authority.)

My question is, what do you have in mind? I think it depends on your objective. If you want an immediate 20-20-20 bloom of growth, you may be disappointed. If you want to build long-term fertility, tilth, soil complexity, then char is one factor that supports that goal.

My 2c.
 
Posts: 37
Location: Mendocino County, California, 9a
6
hugelkultur forest garden trees bee solar greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In spring 2017 I applied about 20+ yards of compost that was 10-20% "activated" biochar to an intensively cultivated 4000sq ft set of beds.  The plants yellowed and no matter how much nitrogen we threw at them.  Eventually they would even start to get nutrient burn before greening.   Beds with more native clayish soil and less added biochar compost greened up much better.  

Then the whole region burnt in a wildfire.  So I can't look up my receipt and give you more accurate numbers.

Then we cover cropped it for two years with pea family plants, rye and clover.

Now the biochar'ed beds are growing a ton of food, no noticeable nutrient deficiencies. No small pest or diseases.  Rabbits are our only issue, but who needs lettuce anyhow?

I bought the biochar compost from the largest biochar company in northern California.  I found them to be in denial when I called them during my nitrogen vacuum stage of the biochar.  Their owner claimed their outsourced composting activation was fantastic and they hadn't received any other complaints.  I think they were on fantasy island, but I'm no expert.

I do intend to make biochar onsite from some the thousands of dead trees, and activate is myself with thinned green brush compost, worm castings, flour, rock dust etc.  I'll start making the biochar when burn season starts next month and will update.  I also intend to compare this to biochar I purchase and activate myself.  I wont be paying for other people to "activate" it again.
 
gardener
Posts: 2598
Location: Maine, zone 5
1214
2
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Efren Turner wrote:I do intend to make biochar onsite from some the thousands of dead trees, and activate is myself with thinned green brush compost, worm castings, flour, rock dust etc.  I'll start making the biochar when burn season starts next month and will update.  I also intend to compare this to biochar I purchase and activate myself.  I wont be paying for other people to "activate" it again.


Efren, thank you for sharing that experience.  That is classic for what you can experience with raw biochar.  I'm a big fan of actually carrying out the composting process with the biochar added to the raw green and brown ingredients dispersed throughout the pile.  That way as the compost pile ingredients break down the biochar can absorb the nutrients that would otherwise leach out or leave as vapors.  Just adding finished compost to raw biochar has not been effective in my experience and the test bed I did that with acted like I added raw biochar to it.  I have not tried the approach you've mentioned where you add a carbohydrate source like flour as one of the ingredients to kick up more biological activity.  That may make all the difference.  Would love to hear how that works out for you.  I have heard that it works well, I just haven't wanted to use a finished good like flour on my biochar when I have a constant stream of material that needs to be composted anyway.
 
pollinator
Posts: 609
Location: South-central Wisconsin
228
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Not yet, but hoping to start soon. My plan is to add it to the legume part of my crop rotation. Since they fix their own nitrogen, they aren't as affected by the "nitrogen vacuum" stage. If I can keep it up for 4-5 years, I'll have covered my whole field.

We'll see if I can keep it up. It's one of those things that keeps getting bumped on the priority list.
 
Gray Henon
pollinator
Posts: 344
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
54
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've got a large amount of feedstock from a grove of white pines that are closely spaced and are self thinning.  I am considering turning a large quantity of it into biochar to be broadcast around my fruit and nut trees.  I would probably inoculate it with manure.
gift
 
Common Weeds And Wild Edibles Of The World (HD video)
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic