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Including biochar with commercial fertilizer?

 
pollinator
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The corn/soybean farmers aren’t going to dramatically change what they are doing overnight, so how about incorporating some percentage of char in with commercial fertilizer to start the process of recarbonizing millions of acres of farmland?  Cornell university recommends a ratio of 30/1 carbon to nitrogen by weight for compost.  Highly doubtful that a rowcrop farmer is going to spread 30 lbs of biochar for each lb of synthetic nitrogen, but if they could be convinced (and it works with current machinery) could we get a pound of char in the ground for each pound of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer?   I realize anhydrous nitrogen is a major source of nitrogen and is injected as a gas into the soil, but I’m guessing they still use granular PK that is laid in with the seed.  Perhaps in the future fertilizer is labeled NCPK?  And perhaps a tax credit for the C portion?  What say ye?
 
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Loads of studies into biochar also include industrial fertilizers.
 
pollinator
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Sure, char works. Except, as we all know, you can't spread raw char and expect an instant positive result. Quite the opposite: it will soak up nutrients for a season or two.

Not a great selling point when farmers are paying astronomical prices for commercial fertilizer.

Somehow, the char has to be incorporated into a high nitrogen waste system before it goes onto the fields. Like it or not, I think that means concentrated chicken, hog, or beef feedlot operations.

Not pretty. But I think it's a realistic starting point. My 2c.
 
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Guys like Will Harris of Georgia, Mark Shepard of Wisconsin, and Gabe Brown of N. Dakota are already changing many farmers' minds and getting them to go in a more sustainable direction.  If one of those guys gets into biochar, katybar the door! There'll be a whole lot of people paying attention.

JohN S
PDX OR
 
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Actually that makes me wonder if getting feedlot interested could help reduce some of the of pollution caused by their operations.  Soak up all that animal waste before it runs off into the streams and groundwater supplies and send those nutrients back to the fields they originally came from.
 
John Suavecito
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I agree, Casie.   CAFO's are creating giant cesspools of environmental destruction right now.  They reap the profits, we pay for the environmental destruction through our taxpayer funds and destroyed environment.  The animals pay in terms of cruel and painful lives.  Adding biochar in there could at least decrease some of the negative effects.  Right now, ground water and rivers are heavily polluted, ending up with giant dead zones in the oceans.  The Mississippi river delta is now known as "cancer alley".
Rudolf Steiner of biodynamic fame had it right though, I think: If you have the helpful proportion of animals on the farm to the size of the farm, it creates natural fertilizer, not an excess of toxic poollution.
John S
PDX OR
 
 
pollinator
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I think another promising inroad might be with animal feed. I know when I give my critters a little food-grade charcoal every day, their poop doesn't stink nearly as bad. It's especially noticeable with my two cats, who love to hold "competitive pooping" marathons. If they don't have charcoal for a few days, the stench is eye-watering! It doesn't matter how recently their litter was changed, nothing will contain that smell! But a tiny pinch of charcoal, mixed in with their squishy food, and suddenly there's no smell anymore.

What if that was the selling point? With more suburban areas expanding into farm country, controlling odors can go a long way toward easing neighborly tension. And the benefits it would have on soil could be presented as a bonus.
 
Gray Henon
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Took some digging, but found this.  The sugar extraction is an interesting aspect I haven’t seen before…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHThW0MdscY

 
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