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!! biochar vs hugelkultur  RSS feed

 
Scott Reil
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Adding biology adds both fungal structures and bacterial polysaccharides that are about as sticky as anything on the planet. Inoculation should be enough to hold it in place, or better yet with a mix of compost; fungal composts for woodlands, bacterial composts for grasslands...

S
 
                          
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I like the biochar, but call it wood ashes.  We sometimes damp the stove down at the end of the night, so the wood burns incompletely.  I take that and add it to the compost which gets put on our garden eventually.  I have heard that it is not good for potatoes, but they seem to thrive in it.  It ends up being similar to the mixture that New England biochar was creating, because the compost breaks down and by the time I put it on the garden it's mixed in.  You can still see chunks of char in the garden. 

I also make ashes in our maple syrup evaporator, but that burns so hot that it's all fine ashes.  Those I return to the woods, and the trees seem to like it. 
 
                      
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Marc, pouring charcoal all over your land seems llike a funny way to deal with flammability.

This stuff looks like a good soil amendment.

However im skeptical of it on a large scale purely as a method of carbon sequestration. 
Pyrolyzed biomass is a potential biofuel, carbon or hydrocarbon,  either  solid, liquid or gas depending on the converting process used. Diging up fossil fuels from the ground for energy and then burying  carbon biofuels in the ground to offset that released carbon doesn't seem like it would be as efficient as just burning the carbon neutral biofuels in the first place and then not having to use the fossil fuels.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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miket wrote:Diging up fossil fuels from the ground for energy and then burying  carbon biofuels in the ground to offset that released carbon doesn't seem like it would be as efficient as just burning the carbon neutral biofuels in the first place and then not having to use the fossil fuels.


In general you're right, but there are specific cases that might go against your intuition.

One thing I've already mentioned is that, on top of its own carbon content, biochar hastens the accumulation of stable humus. Burying one unit of carbon might result in two units in the soil, because so much OM was protected from oxidation by the structure of the charcoal, and because more biomass has been supported by the soils greater retention of water and nutrients.

Secondly, the idea is for biochar to be a byproduct of liquid fuel production. Pyrolysis is less capital-intensive than most other biomass-to-liquids schemes (especially intellectual capital, like royalties on GMO yeast for cellulosic ethanol).

Lastly (and least importantly), I could imagine circumstances where it would emit less carbon say, to power Tulsa partly with coal and offset that CO[sub]2[/sub] by supporting a terra preta project in Brazil, rather than shipping charcoal all that way.
 
Scott Reil
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i also think we are missing the bio component of bio-char. Just adding charcoal to soil is quite likely to cause a nutrient deficient situation as the aquisitive nature of that carbon without sufficient biology to create the weak acid etching to release the nutrients it absorbs could create a nutrient sink. It ain't bio-char unless you inoculate it...

I don't know about coal for Tulsa or anywhere else for that matter, but as a waste stream of pyrolic production, it makes good sense to use the char. Production and distribution of both the product and by-product should be local...

S
 
Marc Flora
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Location: Helena, Montana
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Upon reading this before sending it I realize I've gone very long again.  I hope I'm not breaking the rules  (Okay so breaking rules happens to me all the time)  My apologies if I'm stepping on toes - especially given the state of my boots.

Greetings

Sorry I didn't respond sooner.  I've been completely immersed in planting trees, and shrubs and am just now coming up for air.  At the end of each day I wonder if I should just mulch my clothes or hang them outside and plant strawberries in the pockets.

The question of adding flammability to the forest by spreading charcoal is interesting but not a real issue here.  The explosive fire danger with true catastrophic potential now exists in the surrounding forest that has not yet burned or been thinned.  If I took you just beyond the line where we stopped thinning you would be surrounded by dead trees brown pine needles extending from 2 - 60ft. above the ground.  That is the real fire danger.  The char will -by one method or another- be distributed in areas that have been thinned and are much more likely to produce a ground level fire when they burn.  This is a huge difference from hundred foot flame lengths moving at 40 miles per hour.

This is a die-off on a massive scale.  The question of what to do with the millions of tons of dead and dying biomass from Mexico to the Yukon is immediate and of a scale difficult to wrap one's mind around.  At least this mind.  There are no "solutions" to this.  The landscape is changing forever.  I believe there are many approaches that communities and private land owners can take.  Many factors will influence whether certain actions or lack thereof will work in a given area.  By no means would I trumpet char as a panacea for energy, carbon sequestration or soil rehabilitation.  I don't put it in smoothies either. It is one tool in the box - I believe a valuable tool.  However, time will tell.  There is so much we don't know about this stuff and the best ways to produce, distribute and use it.  Or, in this case, how will the char produced here compare with char made from other feedstock?

Regarding using the biomass directly for energy production:  Good idea.  So far I've been unable to find a home/permie scale unit - lets say1- 2 kw.  I sure think someone could devise a burner that would either run a Stirling or a steam generator on that scale that isn't cost prohibitive.  When you can sell power back to the grid on a domestic (retail) scale the numbers work pretty good for alternatives in general. I did find a 5kw curtain burner that looks wonderful, but is extremely expensive and would require larger scale equipment to feed,  just bigger than this place needs.  I'm not interested in bigger machines that run on even more diesel.  That's the opposite of what we do.

On the slightly more industrial scale, it  still doesn't quite pay to turn biomass directly into energy.  There are mills in Montana that would gladly convert to energy production from woody biomass if it paid.  They are closed up now and local officials are doing back-flips to try and get funding for biomass to energy projects. One reason char appeals to folks investigating this from a business perspective is that you wind up at the end of the energy production process with another valuable product. 

All these equations are subject to change as fossil energy becomes more expensive and difficult to obtain.

The energy costs of transportation are prohibitive when moving biomass far for energy purposes.  "Far" is a concept that will change as liquid fuel prices rise.  I can give you a permie scale example.  I can cut enough wood for all the heating and cooking (and some of the hot water) needs of this house for a year using at, most, about 3 gallons of gas and a jug of bar oil (It's possible to use vegetable based oil for bar oil).  I don't have much in transportation to get the wood to the house - perhaps another gallon of gasoline that I could do without in a pinch.  If I run the same amount of wood through the little sawmill it takes about the same amount of gas to cut the sticks into larger dimension lumber - small boards take more cuts.  However, gathering and skidding the logs into a deck for either purpose takes more fuel than processing by far - maybe double depending on the average length of the skid.  Much more significant though is moving either lumber or firewood off this property.  Repeated trips in a pickup to supply friends and neighbors uses MANY times the amount of gas that goes into cutting their firewood.  The transportation costs have always been the bottleneck with biomass. This is why - in my opinion - the future for using this biomass will be intensely local - very short haul distances and mobile processing units.

Handling large amounts of biomass in a time of energy decent gets me thinking about beasts of burden - but that's another topic.

I agree that broadcasting char on forest ground - especially sloped forest ground doesn't sound good.  If you can suggest an application method that doesn't require more fossil fuel or soil disturbance I'd really appreciate your suggestion.  By broadcasting on the surface I worry the char may be flushed in a big storm and wind up unevenly distributed down the hill. 

So, here is what I will try.  We have some aspen that are not doing well.  A few small remnant groves of trees that are small and not healthy.  I've thinned around them and directed some road runoff to them but they still don't look good a few years later.  Root disturbance is good thing with aspen ( to a limited degree )  so I will dig a small swale on contour along the upper edge of one small grove to catch, spread and sink runoff.  Immediately above this swale I will mark out one tenth of an acre and broadcast a ton of char.  The slope is 8 - 10%, representative of the rest of the place.  I figure that if the swale winds up catching a lot of char we better look for another application method. 

I just planted about 175 stems in the EFG using char in many of the holes.  I had two piles of topsoil that came from burning slash piles that were from decades-old logging.  One I just burned a few weeks ago, the other I burned last year.  I've gotten about ten cubic yards out of each.  These piles were loaded with char, rotted wood and lots of organic material.  I used this stuff in filling the tree holes since the subsoil here is basically rock.  (I've considered re-naming this place Pile-O-Rocks Permaculture) .  I also imported some topsoil - spoiling myself a little.  I tried to get a good mix for most of the fruit and nuts, but took a different course with a few trees.  I planted three each of Hawthorn, Manchurian Crab, Siberian Pear, and Wild Apple.  In one of each I tried in turn the new char soil, the year old char soil, and imported soil.  A few trees got a pretty heavy dose of char.  Any trees that die or fail to thrive will be dug up and the roots and soil examined.  ( I always do this)  If any trees do noticeably better than their neighbors we'll take a little core of the soil to see how much char there is.  Primitive - but I have to start somewhere.  Besides, primitive is what I do best.

The remnants of the two char and rotten wood soil piles are heaped into a berm about 20ft. long and 3 -4 ft. high.  the berm also has many old sticks in it.  Yup. Hugelkulter.

I would like to try in the next couple of years to build a Jean Pain style compost pile for hot water and methane.  He used hardwood slash from thinning - so I am not sure how the coniferous material here will work.  His pile used about 40 tons of double chipped material.  That is a small percentage of the biomass standing dead here - but still a huge project for an aging permie - and as of yet the perma pixies have not arrived to get this stuff done.  I'll put it off until the era of interns arrives here on the Redtail.

I must apologize for going long again.  Too much coffee.  We've had two bear - grizzlies - in the area for the last week or so.  Not entirely unusual for this time of year. My LGDs kept them out of the fenced area and away from the goats, but they hit paydirt at a neighbors about a half mile away when they found 50lb. of sweetmix horse feed.  Having gotten a food reward they have every incentive to hang around and have been reported to  Fish - Wildlife by several folks in a five mile radius - on both sides of this ridge.  This makes a guy a light sleeper, hence the extra coffee.

Back to work.  Hope you are all well.



 
                      
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My first comment was more from comedic value but thinking about it, it would be hard to apply in a way that doesnt leave that char sitting on the surface or doesnt disturb established tree roots or move around a lot of top soil. I've heard the australians use char and i think they deal with fire alot?

If you put down char and it all turned to ash in a groundfire then you didnt save much over burning the biomass to ash in an incinerator and saving some extra labor of char.

Does char retain enough water to not be flamable through the whole year? In that case it would probably be better spreading it before the rainy season and not wait till drought/fire season.

If it was tilled or covered with soil i imagine it wouldnt burn, that one primative method they use to produce the char.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I think there is a future in small-scale pyrolysis systems that produce liquid fuels, that is to say diesel-quality tar. If some of your equipment were able to run on the more-volatile segment of pyrolysis products, that would help with transportation of your other forest products.

I wonder if a good way to innoculate & incorporate biochar without much disturbance to existing roots, might be incorporating it into sheet compost, or maybe something taller like compost windrows if the local vegetation can handle being hilled.
 
Marc Flora
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Location: Helena, Montana
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Miket-

Your comment was funny and did point out one of the ironies of the situation.  Sorry I missed the humor and irony on the first read.  This is why they don't let me out much. 

From the soils I just worked with planting trees I can say that the soil with heavier concentrations of char retains water more than surrounding soils.

You are also correct that a fire at ground level would put any char that is on the surface at risk - but of course more bits of char are also created.  To be honest, if a major fire comes through here the fate of any char that has been spread will probably not be at the top of my list of concerns.

Joel -

I agree that there is a future in small- scale pyrolysis systems that produce liquid fuel.  As of now, I 'm not aware of anything affordable.  So far all I've seen are systems so expensive they couldn't pay for themselves in my lifetime - and some of them haven't even been built yet.  This is one of the reasons the Pain compost system appeals to me - the cheap harvesting of usable methane. 

As liquid fuel becomes more expensive I expect more effort put into small scale pyrolysis development.  Right now it seems more attention is being devoted to larger scale and the associated grants - that is just my perception.

One application method that may work better than broadcasting on a thinned area is to broadcast some char on the forest floor immediately before it is thinned.  The thinning process we've used here results in a layer of shredded and chunked material left on the ground.  In some places it is too thick and will be picked up as feedstock.  If one spread the char before the process begins it seems to me that under the layer of material that is left it is less likely to blow and/or wash away.  One consideration is that the best time to do the work is when the ground is frozen with a little snow - much less soil disturbance.

I also agree that a good way to inoculate char and spread it would be to mix it into sheet compost.  It's just a question of scale.

Given the worsening fire danger I've decided to finish the pond before building the kiln.  I hope it isn't much of a delay.  The pond hole is done.  I need to finish putting a used carpet underlayment under the membrane due to the sharp rock here.  Then I can install the liner and turn the hose on.

I woke up to six inches of new snow this morning.
 
Marc Flora
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I thought this might be an interesting approach to those of you concerned with the compost/ biochar/control question.  These are folks doing studies in test plots being built  in Seattle.  This is from the PNW Biochar List.

-Marc
.



Hi folks. I am working with Art and Sue Dickson in overseeing the
plots that Art has alluded to in recent previous posts. Below is a
brief summary of our status. As a general status report I would say
in
6-8 weeks we will begin to have some interesting soils data, and the
crop growing and being measured.

Last summer Seachar established 16, 15' X 15" plots on the south side
of campus by the cell tower. To these 16 plots were applied 4
treatments, 1) control, 2) dry biochar at 160 lbs per plot, 3) air
dry
compost at 340 lbs per plot, and 4) compost and biochar together at
trt 2 and 3 levels. In the fall, a winter cover crop of mixed rye and
vetch was applied to all plots.


We have had much discussion with our technical advisors (USDA, WSU,
IBI) this winter on next steps. Our first question will be to
understand how the covercrop when tilled in (this past weekend!) is
affected by the initial treatments in terms of nitrogen release. To
our understanding this question regarding interactions with a
covercrop has not been addressed in the literature.


Before tilling we took samples that represent a foliar sample of a 1
meter square area from each of our plots, as well as 0-6" deep soil
samples in the plates (we also have soils data from last year, pre-
trt). For the foliage samples we are taking both an initial wet
weight
followed by a dry weight for total biomass incorporated, and full
nutrient analysis of these (including the soils) at USDA. We let the
covercrop late into the spring based on WSU Puyallup data that
indicated this would improve crop productivity.


We will continue to take soil samples every 3 weeks until sometime in
July to watch the nutrient dynamics with the tilled covercrop. I
should add our "soil" is very poor as you might expect of glacial
till and construction tailings. It is a rocky, 3-4% organic matter
loam. We are hoping to involve the school in designing and installing
a irrigation system for the plots this summer as part of one of their
classes. Our intention is to continue to study these plots for 5
years, as early research indicates the benefits often only accrue
after the first year.


We have decided to grow sweet corn this summer because it is a known
nutrient hog which should allow treatment effects to be seen. We hope
to plant the corn around June 1, and with experience from Puyallup
WSU
research labs, to time the growth of the corn to when the covercrop
is
maximally providing nitrogen. We tilled in 25lbs of lime per plot
this
weekend to bring the pH up into the corn range. We had much lively
discussion with the advisors on other supplements, specifically K for
the control and char only plots (the compost provided quite a bit),
but in the end decided not to confound the trts by differential
application since while k stuck out like a sore thumb for deficiency,
it is likely not the only nutrient factor that will influence growth
of the crop between + and - compost plots. In this sense, while we
have 4 plots, we really have 2 head to head comparisons....... a poor
soil with and without char, and a compost amended soil with and
without char. As this group has been discussing, the compost
comparison pair will most likely be the most interesting to follow.


We are a small group of citizen scientists. We want to provide
information on biochar as an urban gardener starting a new pea patch
might wish to understand how biochar technology could be used to
sequester carbon while improving poor urban soils to provide local
foods.


Hope this provides some additional insights on what we are up to in
West Seattle!


Jim
 
Emerson White
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Hugelkulture is probably better if you aren't doing anything else, and over the short term (10-20 years) but Biochar is a commitment to the future.  Adding wood to the soil feeds microbiotic life yes but in the process of being fed it releases the carbon which degrades the soil. I think biochar is potentially of even greater benefit to conventional farmers because it is such a nutrient sink. It is not uncommon for a farmer to dump 3-5 times as much fertilizer as they need on their field and biochar may be able to hold on to some of that, and make a soil that is less inhospitable to beneficial microbes and from which less runoff pollution is generated.
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Doug Bullock says .... well ... you gotta kinda hear him say it .... my impression is that he is not keen on biochar. 

He didn't talk about the value of biochar we normally think of, but instead talked about his concerns in a political space:  he is concerned that folks will get paid to chop down trees, turn them to biochar and bury them.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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paul wheaton wrote:he is concerned that folks will get paid to chop down trees, turn them to biochar and bury them.


I share his concern, and hope that that if this happens, it will tend to happen more in orchards that would be improved by coppicing, in woods where brush removal needs to happen, and above all, in urban settings where the trees would otherwise have been used as alternative daily cover material by the local landfill.

Marc Flora wrote:As of now, I 'm not aware of anything affordable.

...

One application method that may work better than broadcasting on a thinned area is to broadcast some char on the forest floor immediately before it is thinned.


On the first point, this is one place I've heard of serious work on small-scale pyrolysis equipment that does useful things with the volatiles, but naturally it's a cookstove rather than a source of engine fuel. First things first.

On the second point, my idea of composting around the charcoal was little more intensive than taking more care in the building of slash piles, I definitely wasn't thinking of trucking in kilotons of horse manure. It sounds like we're thinking along similar lines, with different terminology.
 
Emerson White
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sizable portions of our already besieged forests might be the price we pay for our folly. I will point out that huge chunks of boread tiaga forest burn every year and no one cares. perhaps we could go in and cut swathes out of those forests.
 
Scott Reil
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Most of the big commercial pyrolic fuel/biochar operations I know of aren't looking at trees at all, but grasses, as the carbon source. I am concerned that most of those are looking at Miscanthus as the source, as it has shown some serious signs of invasive tendency, but it is renewaqble and we leave the most carbon intense part of the plant, the roots, in the ground to renew it. I would rather see a native switchgrass like Panicum, but that's quibbling... Let's leave forests alone and switch marginally fertile land to a (native) crop for biomass...

From an agricultural POV, biochar might have a place in a tilled system, but tilling ain't a great way to preserve carbon in the first place. From aforestry standpoint, you can reintroduce carbon to soil in a stable fashion, but it's a long wait from charcoal to plant available carbon. Even the fungal side is going to have some issues getting to it. Does it fit the nutritional needs of an apical succession forest soil? I dunno. Don't know who does. I think we are guessing there...

Finally we are still not drawing a clear delineation between char and biochar. Tain't the same thing. What are we comparing?

I think Emerson is spot on about the differences in uses, but disagree about farmers overdosing fields. They are usually the most judicious in fert use; it's a production cost. Homeowners and landscapers are WAY worse than farmers with the stuff. But he is correct; hugelkultur is a short term CO2 fix and char is long term. Seems the biggest factor to me...

S
 
Emerson White
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The reason I favor going after the Taiga is that it is the largest biome on land and I'm pretty sure it is the least biodiverse. So restoring a first growth forest to that marginal land in the continental united states and harvesting a similar acreage of taiga would yield more global biodiversity and more char/biochar (biochar is made from char) and threaten a much smaller percentage of the biome you affect. Heck if we just went in and clearcut areas affected with spruce bark beetle and spruce budworm and aspen leaf miner and amber marked birch leaf miner and larch sawfly (which all seem to be benefiting from the higher atmospheric CO2) then we could retun there spread to more historic levels and actually reduce the man made damage to boreal forests, like cutting off a gangrenous limb.
 
Scott Reil
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Emerson, here I have to disagree. The soil succession in temperate areas is eternally striving to become the "monoculture" you are ready to do away with; all soils are moving towards the 100% fungal soils we find in northern latitude boreal forest. I do not think we understand the carbon intensity of these soils and their biologies well enough to start harvesting beyond (or frankly, even AT) current rates. These are the most carbon intense soils on the planet and a major carbon sink of themselves. Probably not a great place to disturb considering current (390 ppm) carbon levels...

Now harvesting from a more bacterially centered soil, and using more carbon intense plant material (say C4 type hot weather plants rather than C3 cool weather types) seems a smarter way to go, say tropical type grasses that renew readily from rootstock in a year (bamboo, anyone?) Huge densities for cropping, little if any disease or predation issues, and easily done on existing land that is currently churning out too much corn (or many other subsidized food crops we are currently PAYING farmers to grow). Take away federal oil and corn subsidies and use part of it to incentivise farmers to switch to fuel crops. Eventually return it to a true market without fake government controls as biofuel replaces petroleum as the most cost effective option. Char becomes simply a by-product of the pyrolic fuel process and as the economies of scale build, the char becaomes more and more reasonable... Use char to maintain soil in fuel farmed fields. Sustainability achieved...

Add ons for further efficiency abound. Add algal fuel production as a CO2 sink for the stack emmissions from the pyrolysis plant. Grow a food crop like corn or wheat and use the straw and chaff for pyrolysis. Char should be a byproduct of another process to be truly an answer to the carbon sequestration issue.

As far as growing goes, carbon is carbon; the plants don't care as long as it is plant available or holding nutrition that is... but taiga is a lot of carbon on the hoof, too much to be putting back in the atmospheric loop in a hurry IMO...
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I don't think US forests need to be left alone.

IMOO, we humans took on some responsibility when we killed off the new world pachyderms, and took on still more when we killed the vast majority of beavers.

Related: Homegrown Evolution reviews a book on large-scale land management efforts in pre-gold-rush California.
 
Jordan Lowery
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joel the book tending the wild is an amazing book, i borrowed it from a friend and need to get my own. i learned of it from a book i have called "California Indians and there environment" this book says that even before we came and killed off a lot of animals, destroyed ecosystems and more. the Indians managed the land  to get the most productivity out of a given area. somewhere in my book it says that land managed (usually by fire, but much much more) was up to 400% more productive than land they did not manage( which was rare). giving them an enormous amount of food and materials for everyday living, building, medicine, and just about everything a person would need.
 
Scott Reil
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Native burns are not just a Cali thing; certainly a part of the forest management here in the Northeast as well. Even at my Mom's I can dig down about a foor and hit a charcoal layer from a long ago burn just about anywhere in the yard. Carbonized wood chunks from hundreds of years back... can't do that with huglekultur...

S
 
Leif Kravis
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regarding the pottery, the shards make sense, build a clay pot, put the wood in it , build a fire around it and then break it and bury it. the fired clay is also porous and would wick and hold moisture and nutrients. just an observation, they used low tech.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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soil wrote:this book says that even before we came and killed off a lot of animals, destroyed ecosystems and more. the Indians managed the land


The "we" in "we killed off the new world pachyderms" was referring to we humans in general, and not to Euro-Americans. It seems like pachyderms died out on this continent around the time of the first or second wave of human colonization. I forget if it was the Clovis culture, or the culture they displaced.

And I absolutely realize that burns weren't limited to California, I only meant to point out a specific example with an unusual level of detail. I think the responsibility that humans took on when we killed off the pachyderms was partly fulfilled by burning, and I think the additional responsibility we took on when we nearly exterminated the beaver might some day be fulfilled by management practices like permaculture and/or keyline.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
The "we" in "we killed off the new world pachyderms" was referring to we humans in general, and not to Euro-Americans. It seems like pachyderms died out on this continent around the time of the first or second wave of human colonization.


Apparently this theory is presently in dispute, as it was promoted by just one man, and then taught as a fact for decades.     There's more and more evidence that megafauna  likely died due to climate change. 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011025072315.htm

http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Climate-change-killed-megafauna-study/2006/11/28/1164476203042.html

Of course humans likely played a role as any predator would moving into new territory, but likely the "overkill hypothesis" is not entirely accurate.
 
Scott Reil
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Very cool Ludi...

And like the moniker; my favorite Hesse book...

S
 
                                    
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I heard about biochar a few months ago from a friend of mine. I never thought that something as simple as charcoal could do so much for the soil and the environment.

I was amazed after reading "The Biochar Revolution" from http://biochar-books.com/The_Biochar_Revolution.

They have a great discount for Christmas on the book at the moment.

Check it out. It was a great help in opening my mind to issues that affect us all.
 
Jordan Lowery
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i just built a biochar hugelkultur bed in the forest garden. best of both worlds.
 
bob dewan
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hello landboy
This is a great book  http://biochar-books.com/
“The Biochar Revolution” with “The Biochar Solution”
I want to call this book: “All about Biochar” because “The Biochar Revolution” collects the results and best practical advice that these entrepreneurs have to offer to the biochar community.
In the book you will read about the challenges of designing low-emissions biochar production systems from small-scale stoves to farm-scale pyrolyzers. Another section of the book is devoted to explaining simple tests to characterize biochar and methods for conducting valid field trials.

 
erich Knight
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My holy grail is the establishment of soil carbon as the universal measure of sustainability for all biofuel systems.

[font=Verdana]A Brief History of Agricultural Time[/font]
Our farming for over 10,000 years has been responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. This soil carbon, converted to carbon dioxide, Methane & Nitrous oxide began a slow stable warming that now accelerates with burning of fossil fuel. The unintended consequence has been the flowering of our civilization. Our science has now realized the consequences and developed a more encompassing wisdom.

Modern Agriculture has evolved in the ability to remove the limitations to plant growth, from burning forest for ash fertilizers, to bison bones, to Guano islands, then in 1913, to crafty Germans figuring out how to suck nitrogen from the air to now with natural gas derived fertilizers. These chemical fertilizers have over come nutrient limits to growth for 100 years.

NPK and the "Green Revolution" in genetics have brought us to where we are, all made possible by basically mining soil carbon stocks. So we have now hit a carbon limit in two distinct ways. The first is continued loss of soil carbon content, the second is fossil carbon energy cost. The present farming system spends ten cents of fossil energy dilivering one cent of food energy.

We can not go back, but we can go forward with our newly acquired wisdom.
Agriculture allowed our cultural accent and Agriculture will now prevent our descent.
Wise Land management, Conservation Agriculture and afforestation can build back our soil carbon, Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, (living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.
We can rectify the carbon cycle, and beyond that, biochar systems serve the same healing function for the Nitrogen & Phosphorous Cycles, Toxicity in Soils & Sediments and as a feed additive cut the carbon foot print of  livestock by 50%.

Carbon, being the center of life, means we all have skills to contribute. Whatever your profession or interest, one aspect of it relates, from anthropology to zoology, astrophysics to microbiology. The multidisciplinary collaboration needed to promote our message on carbon solutions across policy, industry, research, and practical applications We can each do our part, be an activist to get the word out, if you're a gardener of any sort from patio containers to backyard to community gardens, you can start now. Become the benefactor of the wee-beasties under your feet, and they in turn will reward you handsomely. Reconnect your family to the basis of all terrestrial life, the soil.


In modern closed loop systems Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

Biochar viewed as soil Infrastructure; The old saw;
"Feed the Soil Not the Plants" becomes;
"Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !".
Free Carbon Condominiums with carboxyl group fats in the pantry and hydroxyl alcohol in the mini bar.
Build it and the Wee-Beasties will come.
Microbes like to sit down when they eat.
By setting this table we expand husbandry to whole new orders & Kingdoms of life.
( These oxidised surface charges; carbonyl. hydroxyl, carboxylic acids, and lactones or quinones,  have as well a role as signaling substances towards bacteria, fungi and plants.)


[font=Verdana]Carbon-Based Religion[/font]

Carl Sagan's human connection to stardust leaves out a critical stage. We are stardust, but only stardust transformed by life. Every time I look at an SEMs of Char, it strikes me, the perfect preservation of the base structures of life, a fractal vision, how life creates the greatest surface area with the least amount of material. The preservation of this structure, for return to the lowest order of life, seems almost a religious act. A perfect cradle to cradle recycling, biotic carbon should never be combusted and destroyed, but revered, as life is revered, be returned to the cradle of terrestrial life the Soil

Reading the Japanese work on  adding char in animal feed, I thought of posting the Vatican, to lobby for a re-formulation of communion wafers. Communion is what I feel when I sequester carbon in soils. This feeling lead me to compose this paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer: [Our Carbon Who Art in Heaven]

In this Carbon based religion Burning is not the consequence OF Sin, Burning is the Sin.


Religious parallels:

1) About a central figure responsible for life, carbon.

2) Stewardship; living today in a way that protects the system for posterity.

3) About something in the heavens that need to manifest on Earth

4) The Golden Rule: Account external costs so they are not done unto others.

[font=Verdana]The Terra Preta Prayer[/font]

Our Carbon who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name
By kingdom come, thy will be done, IN the Earth to make it Heaven.
It will give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our atmospheric trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against the Kyoto protocols
And lead us not into fossil fuel temptation, but deliver us from it's evil
low as we walk through the valley of the shadow of Global Warming,
I will feel no evil, your Bio-fuels and fertile microbes will comfort me,
For thine is the fungal kingdom,
and the microbe power,
and the Sequestration Glory,
For ever and ever (well at least 2000 years)
AMEN


Soil Carbon Commandments:


1) Thou shalt not have any other Molecule  before Me

2) Thou shall not make wrongful use of the name of Biochar, It will not acquit anyone who mis-charactorizes it's name

3) Observe the Fallow days and keep them, as Sustainability commands thou

4) Honor your Micro Flora & Fauna , as the Soil Carbon commands you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that High Soil Carbon has given you.

5) Thou shall not murder the Soil Food Web

6) Neither shall thou adulterate the Soils with Toxicity

7) Neither shall thou steal Biomass from the Soil Food Web

Neither shall thou bear false witness against your neighbors Biochar, or about Thy own

9) Neither shall thou covet your neighbor's Fertility

10) Neither shall thou desire your neighbor's house, or field, or Pyrolysis Reactor, or farm implements, or anything that belongs to your neighbor, as thou may Create thy Own


[size=10pt]Soil Carbon Dream[/size]

I have a dream that one day we live in a nation where progress will not be judged by the production yields of our fields, but by the color of their soils and by the Carbon content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, a suite of earth sensing satellites will level the playing field, giving every farmer a full account of carbon he sequesters. That Soil Carbon is given as the final arbiter, the common currency, accountant and Judge of Stuartship on our lands.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made forest, the rough soils will be made fertile, and the crooked Carbon Marketeers will be made straight, and the glory of Soil Sequestration shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see a Mutually assured Sustainability.

This is our hope.



My apologies to Dr. King, but I think he would understand my passion
Erich
 
R Hasting
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Location: Mineola, Texas
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Can we figure out a way to combine a RMH with a kiln to create biochar, use the heat to keep the house warm and all that?

Secondly, if a little is good .... a lot is great?

Can we combine the hugelkulture bed and add the char to the mix as well. I suspect so, and it might add some nice effects to the soil as well. 

I look forward to seeing the results of the tests being done with the seachar experiments.
 
erich Knight
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Transect graph showing plant benefits decline beyond to 30% Char;

Box Plots Showing Effect of Composition Across Three Transects
Figure 1. Box Plots Showing Effect of Composition Across Three Transects
http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/768?size=_original

[size=10pt]work on the affinity of char & MYC & microbes[/size];

Mycorrhizal responses to biochar in soil – concepts
and mechanisms
Daniel D. Warnock & Johannes Lehmann &
Thomas W. Kuyper & Matthias C. Rillig

http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/publ/PlantSoil%20300,%209-20,%202007,%20Warnock.pdf


Microorganisms;
Recent work by C. Steiner, at U of GA, showing a 52% reduction of NH3 loss when char is used as a composting accelerator. This will have profound value added consequences for the commercial composting industry by reduction of their GHG emissions and the sale of compost as a nitrogen fertilizer.
http://www.ibi2010.org/wp-content/uploads/BiocharPoultrySteiner.pdf


Proliferation of Microorganisms in Compost by Addition of Bamboo Charcoals (Shuji Yoshizawa, Michio Ohata, Satoko Tanaka)


SEM photograph of microorganism in bamboo charcoal.
In Japan, charcoal and compost of biomass waste have been used for a long time as soil improvers in farms. Wood and bamboo charcoals have pores of several microns or several ten microns which are suitable for microorganisms grown for composting the biomass waste.
  It was observed as shown in the photograph (left) taken by scanning electron micrograph (SEM) technique that the microorganisms proliferated on the charcoal powder and in the pores of the charcoal.
http://acer.meisei-u.ac.jp/doc/acernews2/index_en.html

Michinori Nishio
National Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences
Kannondai 3-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305 Japan, 1996-10-01

This Bulletin discusses microbial products in Japan, where they are used on many farms, particularly by organic farmers who hope that these products will improve nutrient uptake by plants and the quality of their products. It discusses the use of charcoal and rhizobia to stimulate nutrient uptake, and the use of arbuscular mycorrizal fungi (AMF) to help establish vegetation on barren land. The range of commercial AMF products available in Japan is briefly described, and their use and effectiveness in Japanese agriculture.http://www.agnet.org/library/eb/430/
http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/nishio

Nice Crop Pictures;
http://www.biochar.info/biochar.biochar-overview.cfml

My 09 field trials with the Rodale Institute & JMU ;
Alterna Biocarbon and Cowboy Charcoal Virginia field trials '09
http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/1408



TP people were no CO2 Saints, their death reinforced EU chills;
[size=10pt][font=Verdana]The Columbian Encounter and the Little Ice Age: Abrupt Land Use Change, Fire, and Greenhouse Forcing - [/font][/size]Annals of the Association of American Geographers

When I was researching NPP numbers for plugging into Biochar's climate potential, looking through Dr. Bill Ruddiman's work at UVA on legacy CO2 and the agricultural revolution, It's support of Johannes Lehmann's previous work of a potential 10 GtC, and the added perspective of palioclimatic effects of soil carbon loss, the Ruddimann Hypothesis, brought together many loose threads for me.

Dr. Dull's recent work brings even more support, related even closer to practices of Terra Preta soils in the Amazon. The BC, charcoal & pollen evidence is hard to ignore

I'm glad this work by Dr. Dull is getting attention. Together with Dr. William Woods and citing Bill Ruddiman's work, the pieces of anthropogenic climate change fall into place.

The implications are really important. Dull, et al, argue that the re-growth of Neotropical forests following the Columbian encounter led to terrestrial biospheric carbon sequestration on the order of 2 to 5 GtC, thereby contributing to the well-documented decrease in atmospheric C recorded in Antarctic ice cores from about 1500 through 1750. While the paper does not extend to the medieval maximum, from charcoal in lake bed studies it documents increased biomass burning and deforestation during agricultural and population expansion in the Neotropics from 2500 to 500 years BP, which would correspond with atmospheric carbon loading and global warming 1100 to 650 years BP.

Dr.Dull gives us hard numbers for what Charles Mann has tried to get across to us in "1491", that we don't give mankind near enough credit for creating our biosphere. Just as Michael Pollan's "Botany of Desire" showed us how plants have manipulated us to spread them around the globe, the message of man's mutuality with nature is more than seeping into the data everywhere.

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
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All of these answers (except one) seem highly technical so I may be way out of my league but here goes my half a cent worth:

Diversity appears to be the solution.  The leaves from my trees, esp. Magnolia, take forever to break down, but when I top it with a pile of hot green grass clippings, and a pile of slimy plum pits and pulp - the whole thing is black dirt inside of two weeks during hot weather.

Just one of either of these things does nothing but when I combine the three, or even more when I add the ash from my cookout, and the bedding from the chicken house (cypress shavings and poo), they all combine to make something useful in a short period of time.  Currently there is butternut squash growing out of a pile that hasn't even broken down yet.

Would this work on a massive scale?  Probably not - but aren't we trying to get away from a 'massive scale'?
 
R Hasting
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Location: Mineola, Texas
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erich wrote:
Transect graph showing plant benefits decline beyond to 30% Char;

Box Plots Showing Effect of Composition Across Three Transects
Figure 1. Box Plots Showing Effect of Composition Across Three Transects
http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/768?size=_original

[size=10pt]work on the affinity of char & MYC & microbes[/size];

Mycorrhizal responses to biochar in soil – concepts
and mechanisms
Daniel D. Warnock & Johannes Lehmann &
Thomas W. Kuyper & Matthias C. Rillig

http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/publ/PlantSoil%20300,%209-20,%202007,%20Warnock.pdf


Erich, I am a pretty smart guy, I'm an engineer, and I can do a little math and the like, but what I don't have is the ability to read this really cool stuff and make an opinion, one way or the other.

In other words, a summary (In high school level English) would be really welcome. NH3, is probably lost on 90% of the people on the forum, as is the impact of containing it within a compost pile.
(Ammonia, and (I assume) higher nitrogen in the final compost)

Can you help a brother out and explain what these findings mean?

I don't see a picture of biochar vs compost. Does one exist?

Third, what quantity of BioChar would you suggest we use in our gardens?
 
                        
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii
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A friend of mine makes and sells biochar. It's expensive compared to all the other inputs available - he sells it at some like 1.25$ a gallon, and barely makes a profit. His method is a deep, cone shaped pit in which a fire is started. Once the fire is hot, the pit is filled with wood scrap from a local lumber mill then capped with dirt. He says he gets better than 50% converstion weight by weight of wood to char, which I think is pretty damn good. He then runs the chunky charthrough a hammer mill that breaks it into small (1/2" pieces. The ground char is then flooded with compost tea.

At this cost, it is not even close to economical for carbon sequestration - guilder trees being by far the better alternative. But I've had good resultsso far applying char at about 1 gallon (maybe 5 lbs?) per 10 sqft. I'm on heavy tropic clay. Hugelkulture, even in the tropics where organic matter volitalizes so quickly, is the much better option for carbon sequestration. The recent trend towards char as a solution to global warming is total bs. It's just toexpensive unless subsidized by machinery. We have been discussing the option of a power-producing biochar machine that can char otherwise nearly worthless eucalyptus plantations (talk about a boondoggle!) something like a mobile 40ft container that takes in logs and produces power and char. But the startup cost would run into the millions for such a project.

Having made a few yards of char myself by the deep pit method, I can say it's a lot of work. Biochar vs hugelkulture = hugelkulture wins in terms of food produced per effort, at least in the short term.

Having said that, I've never seen mycellium take off like a 50/50 mix of char and compost. It's just wild! I mixed compost, char, and bonemeal and let it sit a few days with damp cardboard covering the whole thing. Pull back the cardboard and wow! White fuzzy growth all over. I then used this for veggie beds and seedling starter mix, with very good results. Im not sure if the effort that goes into the proccess is worth it when I could be hugelculturing or just chipping the wood into mulch, but the idea that the char could stick around for hundreds of years is pretty appealing.

Biochar: lots of hype, lots of work, good results. Is it worth it? Eeeeeh. Marginally so in the tropics, probably not in temperate climates where humus sticks around for centuries anyway. But it sure is fun to make a soil mix that grows so well!

Now a mulching machine that burned waste wood to make char and powered a chipper to make mulch/compost with the extra heat...expensive but probably worth the capital?

Of course if char is created as a byproduct of nessecary home heating or cooking, it's a big winner.
 
                              
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Hey all brilliant discussion. My thoughts.

Anyone who burns wood for heat in temperate zones should make a point of damping down the stove and allowing enough ash to build up that there are small yet frequent bits of char.  It would be foolish not to add this to your do do or what have you and spread around our land to feed this to the soil for eternity.  When ash and bits of char are added to the mulch the ash leaches away quickly to the roots of the plants while the char will become bio-char in the top dressing were it will not compete with deep rooted crops, while absorbing nutrients all year round.

Moderation is always key.

Especially when adding wood ash. Remember Fukuoka said he stopped using it because it maid the spiders go away. I've noticed worms detest it too, and a ring of wood ashes can keep slugs away from plants, wile making them grow like mad.  We know it raises the ph of the soil, which is better then importing lime. But I wouldn't cover fields with either.  And be sure to add some greens because there is no N in wood ashes.

As far as charged up bio char, If you need to double dig (so you need not till again) why not add a little to the sub layers if none is present. After all natural forces set bigger fires then we throughout history and before. Nature is constantly adding char to the soil, I frequently pass a burnt out gap were most of the charred trees are still standing, over the years all that char is absorbing nutrients from the rainfall and bird do and all other life activity around the spot before even hitting the ground. Now the site is full of shrubs, young trees and still many herbaceous plants among the standing dead.
We mimicked nature when burning, in the past because we found burn sites full of edible fruit and veg.
But i don't think anyone should be burning old growth to till corn fields. Maybe in a hundred years of proper management we might start clearing sites making char on site and planning the succession for peek productivity.  But right now we have to much damaged soil to heal and trucking in bio char or anything else is wrong.  Just plant the right seeds step back and let her do it.

When considering the removal of aerial fuel loads from forests ripe to burn. If you have the will to turn it into bio-char, I think a few pounds in the naturally occurring pits or small dug pits (with the corresponding mound planted with nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulator understory species) covered with leaves and maybe some do do in the rainy season, would not be to disturbing, or pose a ground fire risk, but would hold lots of moisture and nutrients.  Eventual the tree roots and there mycorize would be in there digesting away.  And build a few morel beds.  Wouldn't that be awesome.

Good luck to you all
 
Roxanne Sterling-Falkenstein
Posts: 108
Location: Cave Junction, Oregon
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food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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So here in forest fire country some folx are harvesting charcoal from the burned out zones, and doing the pee thing small scale. That makes sense to me ( most of these fires near our town were in the 80's and are recovering well). I think all this extra work and equipment is kind of crazy. I would use a charcoal log or two in a hugelkultur if I got my hands on one, and I do think in my limited knowledge that it could hold the good stuff i usually throw into my piles like hot manure. But burning LOTS OF good wood that could be in a hugelkultur seems anti productive to me. Maybe I just don't get it. I guess..If you already have charcoal, use it to it's best use and biochar seems a good plan for a byproduct you may already be producing. That's it from the lazy lady who runs the peanut gallery
 
erich Knight
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Please review my talk and slides for the 2012 Sonoma Biochar conference. A focus in my talk is the closing of the nutrient loop on farms in Europe. The use of Biochar is a feed supplement for livestock & Aquaculture and the synergistic composting of livestock manure with Biochar to retain 50 to 75% of the nitrogen normally lost to the air during composting

Carbon Conservation for Home, Health, Energy & Climate

http://2012.biochar.us.com/299/2012-us-biochar-conference-presentations

CoolPlanet Biofuels,
Please take a look at this YouTube video by the CEO of CoolPlanet Biofuels, guided by Google's Ethos and funding, along with GE, BP and Conoco, they are now building the reactors that convert 1 ton of biomass to 75 gallons of bio – gasoline and 1/3 ton Biochar for soil carbon sequestration. They report the field to tank production cost at $1.25/gallon! This year their production line for skid mounted, farm scale reactors will open its doors, they plan a total production run of 100K units.
If it's Good enough Google, .....It's Good Enough for Me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkYVlZ9v_0o


 
erich Knight
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Two new papers which entwine Biochar soil technology deeper into the new findings at the advanced light sources and with new NMR techniques;

Potassium, as cloud nucleation catalyst, another ecological service delivered by the fungal kingdom.
How Fungi May Create the Amazon's Clouds
http://discovermagazine.com/2012/sep/04-mushroom-cloud

And;

Demonstration, Using quantitative 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy measurements, concludes that both Terra Preta soils and Midwest dark soils contain 40%+ of their organic carbon (SOC) as pyrolytic carbon, that this pyrolytic carbon can account for all CEC

Abundant and Stable Char Residues in Soils: Implications for Soil Fertility and Carbon Sequestration

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es301107c


New avenues of confirmation, new pathways for applications are cropping up all over. The vision of the fungal world calling the rain, The farms in Switzerland eliminating odor of manure,closing the nutrient loop with Biochar feed rations provide a feast of new learning and imagination.


 
erich Knight
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Trees have done it Before and Can do It Again
This article on Genghis Khan's CO2 sainthood, by Julia Pongratz of the Carnegie Institute
http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0120-hance_mongols.html

The Unintended, Heavy-handed, afforestation ties in with the research I have been following by Dr. Dull at the University of Texas, his work with lake sediment core pollen & charcoal, nominates Christopher Columbus for much higher CO2 sainthood. His nomination is weighted with 2 to 5 Billion tons versus Mr Khan's 700 million tons of atmospheric Carbon reductions;
The Columbian encounter led to terrestrial biospheric carbon sequestration on the order of 2 to 5 GtC Climate Forcing.
The Columbian Encounter and the Little Ice Age: Abrupt Land Use Change, Fire, and Greenhouse Forcing - Annals of the Association of American Geographers
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/00045608.2010.50243

The Legacy of 17.5 million Y-chromosome male descendants takes some wind from Genghis' nomination, while the new genetic work that corroborates the loss of 50% of the pre-Columbian New World population, with the Spanish records of the populations' rebound, leaves Christopher in a stronger position for unintended CO2 sainthood.

The relevance of afforestation as a climate tool should please Dr. Hansen with his latest plans for 100 GtC of new Forest;
"The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future".
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110505_CaseForYoungPeople.pdf

The last millennium has seen three major CO2 reductions, all attributable to trees, or should I say a reduction of people who destroy forest. Whether it's Genghis Khan murdering farmers or the black death reducing farmers by one third or the Columbian exchange reducing human fire management by half, the results have been similar and proportional. This unintended, politically incorrect, afforestation has proved, time and again, that trees can do the job

My take and interest;
The Paleoclimate Record shows agricultural-geo-engineering is responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. The unintended consequence, the flowering of our civilization. Our science has now realized these consequences and has developed a more encompassing wisdom. Wise land management, afforestation and the thermal conversion of biomass can build back our soil carbon. Pyrolysis, Gasification and Hydro-Thermal Carbonization are known biofuel technologies, What is new are the concomitant benefits of biochars for Soil Carbon Sequestration; building soil biodiversity & nitrogen efficiency, for in situ remediation of toxic agents, and, as a feed supplement cutting the carbon foot print of livestock. Modern systems are closed-loop with no significant emissions. The general life cycle analysis is: every 1 ton of biomass yields 1/3 ton Biochar equal to 1 ton CO2e, plus biofuels equal to 1MWh exported electricity, so each energy cycle is 1/3 carbon negative.



Cheers,
Erich Cheers,
Erich
 
Marc Troyka
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Well, that's interesting, but would you really want snowstorms in July?
 
Dale Hodgins
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miket McCoy wrote:

This stuff looks like a good soil amendment.

However im skeptical of it on a large scale purely as a method of carbon sequestration. 
Pyrolyzed biomass is a potential biofuel, carbon or hydrocarbon,  either  solid, liquid or gas depending on the converting process used. Diging up fossil fuels from the ground for energy and then burying  carbon biofuels in the ground to offset that released carbon doesn't seem like it would be as efficient as just burning the carbon neutral biofuels in the first place and then not having to use the fossil fuels.


I'm one month in, so far as learning anything about this is concerned. Within 5 minutes, I had the same thought as quoted above.

I would absolutely love it if all of the hype concerning biochar were true. Not only would the world be saved, I could make a fortune from it with a wood disposal business. See ---Finding Uses for Free Sawmill Waste - Cedar Only http://www.permies.com/t/19173/green-building/Finding-Free-Sawmill-Waste-Cedar Although I'm fairly new to having more than a vague understanding of it, I've put quite a few hours into it recently. I'm a critical thinker and sceptic so it didn't take too long for me to realize that there is much more going on with the biochar crowd than good science. It has taken on a cult like quasi religious tone. I'm seeing papers and videos from academics as well as snake oil salesmen. Just about everyone has something to sell or they are proselytizing on behalf of their new found faith. Most seem to have blinders on and are not open to questioning whether this is a sensible way to spend one's time or resources.

Have you noticed what colour biochar is ? Well obviously it is black and I think it is likely that many people are attracted to nice black soil. You'll never see a gardener pick up soil and say, “look at how beautifully rich and yellow it is”. Compost is darkly coloured and we all know that dark soil is a good thing. I submit that if biochar were elephant pink but were otherwise identical in all aspects, it would never have generated such a following.

I'm quite convinced that if I was to never learn one more thing about it, I would still go to my grave with a greater understanding of the whole movement than the vast majority of its proponents do.

I still plan to use some just to check it out, but I'm not going to lie to myself or others regarding crop yields and my efforts won't do one thing to address global warming, not even a little, little bit. It's a soil amendment that may or may not be worthwhile.

Check out this thread that I started shortly after my introduction to biochar. Charcoal/Bio-char Production – Utilizing the volatile gasses, reducing pollution and fire risk http://www.permies.com/t/19523/stoves/Charcoal-Bio-char-Production-Utilizing

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I hit send and thought I was done but then this thought struck like a lightning bolt. Biochar could become very useful to purveyors of agricultural chemicals. They could tap into both research and hype to show that it renders their products less harmful. Products could be sold already infused into a biochar substrate. --- Ads would tell us this. --- It absorbs and slowly releases chemicals, it prevents toxins from making it into the ground water, it reverses global warming, it restoreth my soul, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ... – biochar- That was a harmless bit of digression. Remember I said some have turned it into a religion.

Natural farming systems are less likely to lose all of their nutrients to the ground water since the higher quality of their soils tends to lock nutrients in place.

Biochar might help chemical fertilizers to stay where they are wanted and if this were shown to be the case, that fact would be put to use in markering those chemicals.

The next logical step would include grants and tax benefits for carbon sequestation and a new beurocracy to oversee the program.

How did I end up here ? The mind wanders after midnight.





 
The moth suit and wings road is much more exciting than taxes. Or this tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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