A few days ago, I listened to another great podcast of Paul. I really like his philosophy about permaculture, influenced by Holzer: observe Nature, try to imitate Her. I also love Hügelkultur and the polyculture related to it, because it represents the best way of "trying to imitate Nature". Also I like you Paul when you say: there is no absolute truth, but many ways to reach a goal.
At the end of the podcast came the biochar topic, and Paul said it's a nonsense to do it in temperate climates. One should do HK in temperate climates, and biochar in the tropics, because in the tropics HK cannot work: decomposition is just too quick.
Well, I was really disappointed to hear that, for several reasons, all related to each other.
we should never over-simplify what we don't understand: when we say "tropics", often we're assuming that all the tropical regions have similar climate, which is hot and moist, because terra preta (aka biochar) was discovered in the Amazon region. Temperate regions have a broad range of different climates, and so do tropics. Apart of "hot and moist", a most common type is "warm and dry", then there is "warm semi-arid", "arid", and in the Andes, which are mostly tropical, we find "cool dry", "cool moist", "cold dry",... Actually, the climate of San Diego, where Paul did a HK workshop, is closer to the "warm and dry" climate I live in in Nicaragua than the "hot and moist" climate of the Amazon. For this reason, I do think HK would be a better idea for me in order to grow vegetables than biochar. Does Nature do biochar? Would Sepp do it? no... furthermore, the idea of burning trees, in a region suffering under deforestation, sounds crazy to me. I would definitely go with HK, and I'm sure it will work because decomposition is not as quick as in the humid-moist tropics, here it's too dry. I would try it also in the Andes, where the nights are cold, and decomposition would be slower. And the day I live in a warm-moist climate, I would plant trees, not burn them for biochar...
That said, I'm very happy Paul shares his knowledge with the world, it changed the way I see Nature and Permaculture.
I can certainly appreciate your point and I also would plant trees instead of cutting them to produce biochar but I don't believe that it has to be one or the other. I like mixing char produced from other sources with larger logs and branches where they can work together underground. The wood decomposes and becomes available for reuse while the char helps to keep it available and in place longer. That's my belief based on what I see in my garden anyway. I've done no real scientific testing of my own other than doing it and watching it grow things. My muscadine trimmings, limbs that fall or are trimmed for some reason, undergrowth that is starting to interfere with other property uses, kitchen scraps such as bones and egg shells and even small animals that died for some reason such as the rooster that a fox killed all become char or ashes to be added to the woody stuff that goes in, uncharred. We get a lot of rain some years and very little other years. I just thought I'd put in my little bit because it's a topic that is worth discussing and interesting to me. Thanks for bringing it up.
- O.K., I know I will be accused of swallowing a river while chocking on a gnat, But -
At least one of those Wet Forest/Rain Forrest(s) should be labeled Cloud Forest(s), and treated as a Temperate Forrest with poor organic materials retention,
a perfect candidate for Biochar !
I also want to note that Paul W. has stated negative feelings about having a compost pile for the sake of creating amendments and then re-handling
the material to move it to another site, nearly doubling the work and releasing lots of Methane! I wood ! consider an intermediate step that includes
producing Bio-char a value added step, and point out that This IS a Natural step in Mother Natures Plans ! For the Good of the Craft(s) ! Big AL
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
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