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BioChar - Lets get it On

 
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Started playing with Biochar. I made a retort that an on waste oil a couple years ago, but it was a bit of chore to keep the oil pressurized and burning clean. It did make some superb lump charcoal though. Recently I found articles and videos on biochar kilns and decided hey that looks like my fire pit. So off to the races I went.

At this point I have over 50 gallons of biochar. I am charging 10 gallons with urine which will be done next tuesday and then another couple gallons with worm castings and flour. The remainder will be charged with a mix of urine and compost tea. So far I am feeling pretty confident that the process is working and will be beneficial to my plants this coming spring.

If anyone has any tips or tricks or pitfalls I should avoid let me know.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1U3Y72WICRK3GNxHjMRRiNpxXLSz5YEgh?usp=sharinghttps://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1U3Y72WICRK3GNxHjMRRiNpxXLSz5YEgh?usp=sharing
 
gardener
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I'm really interested in using biochar as insulation for an earthbag home so I'm following these kinds of ideas.  Charcoal is highly insulative, and also filters the air if you use it as an interior plaster. SO COOL
 
Benjamin Duggar
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Rob Lineberger wrote:I'm really interested in using biochar as insulation for an earthbag home so I'm following these kinds of ideas.  Charcoal is highly insulative, and also filters the air if you use it as an interior plaster. SO COOL



Thats a little more than I am willing to bite off, but it is a super cool idea. Depending on the size you would need a massive amount. Might want to look at some of the larger kiln setups they feed with front end loaders.
 
pollinator
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Yeah, I think if a person can't buy it by the semi load, I would go with something else.  It would take me many years to make that much myself.  I would really love to see the results of someone had access to that much charcoal though.
 
pollinator
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Yeah. I think in terms of shipping containers and the waste heat of small industrial processes. My much better half is a glass artist, so one day, I would love to have a shipping container-sized retort powered by the exhaust of a glass furnace.

But I agree. It's a craft process unless you can produce it by the yard or more. And if you're doing that much, it had better be a carbon-neutral process, at least, if part of the plan is carbon sequestration in superior soil. That's my goal, anyways.

Good luck.

-CK
 
pollinator
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What is the idea behind using biochar over dirt?
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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As a soil additive, it is a home for microbiology. Outside of temperate environments, it is a soil carbon component that doesn't degrade due to microbial activity (look up Terra Preta).

As mentioned, its surface area makes it a fantastic filter, cleaning whatever air or water it's exposed to.

-CK
 
Benjamin Duggar
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Dan Fish wrote:What is the idea behind using biochar over dirt?



Its more of a biochar in dirt idea instead of a replacing dirt idea. Biochar when charged helps retain moisture, minerals, and provides a more permanent habitat for microbes. It also sequesters large amounts of carbon in the soil which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere "carbon sequestering".
 
pollinator
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For way to much information on biochar!

http://culturalhealingandlife.com.www413.your-server.de/index.php?/forums/topic/50-biochar/
 
Benjamin Duggar
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Harry Soloman wrote:For way to much information on biochar!

http://culturalhealingandlife.com.www413.your-server.de/index.php?/forums/topic/50-biochar/



Good videos. I have watched the majority of them. Evidence says it works, but you best get it charged first.
 
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Harry,
That is an outstanding resource!  I have been reading it and watching the videos.  Sometimes the research we want to know about is already being done. Someone just has to find it and let us know.
John S
PDX OR
 
Benjamin Duggar
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So I used my urine charged biochar to plant some squash seeds. I did a scoop of biochar to a scoop of compost alternating in a 2 foot deep hole dug with a post hole digger. I am hopeful they will grow in this spot where I got very little performance last year. My other batch of biochar which I mixed with worm castings and old wheat flour had a nice batch of mushrooms growing in it in less than a week.

2021-03-09.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2021-03-09.jpg]
 
Benjamin Duggar
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So preliminary results show that the biochar has at least done no damage to the garden or the two pear trees and 5 blueberry bushes I planted. The true test will be the dog days of summer when I hope the charcoal helps in water retention.
 
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Some biochar info:
about one gram properly made has a surface area of nearly 10,000 square feet.

Putting a thick layer of untreated biochar (aka plain charcoal) on the surface will draw nitrogen from the soil and reduce weeds.

Treated biochar is recommended to be mixed in the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches with 2 inches of regular coil covering it.

When making biochar, it helps if you add in come sulfur free molasses for the soil goodies to eat and populate it.

If you use Epsom salts in the mix, it can lock up phosphorous.
It can still take from 1-3 years for it to show great results.

Human urine to charge it with the NPK it contains is a good idea (with the molasses in the mix if you feel froggy).
Or charge with a compost tea for 6 weeks to 3 months.

Biochar also helps stabillize soil moisture levels.

Most sites say to start with 5% mix of biochar to soil.
Add in another 5% if results are not as anticipated.
12.5% seems like a good level for tomatoes.
20% is good for some plants but not other.

Patience is a virtue.

If you have the setup, you can mix plain charcoal into your compost bin and turn as scheduled. It will become the biochar you desire.

I made mine out of oak heating pellets. Perfect size for the garden.

Larger sizes do not yield as good results.

Oh and some plants do not like biochar at all. I think it was carrots that didn't like it much. But you might want to research it further.
 
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