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Portable kiln can make 200+ gallons of charcoal per session...

 
Sean Dembrosky
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Location: Trumansburg, NY
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chicken food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
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I made a video last winter of a system for making biochar that is like the Moxham retort but made of standard roof metal and t-posts. Incredibly replicable, costs nearly nothing, and the first burn made nearly 200 gallons of quality charcoal. I'm linking the video here to share with folks. It's a little bit long, but it goes over the whole process and shows it in action. I'm planning to fire it up again this winter and make some simple modifications to make it more efficient.
Last winter I made around 2000 gallons of biochar with a few home made systems like this. All for next to no money or completely free... youtube.com/user/edibleacres has a bunch more of my biochar stuff if you are interested.



 
Dean Howard
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Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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As I've been seeing more Biochar articles and videos, I'm wondering:
1) How much Biochar does one really need?... or
2) How much can one reasonably be able to use?
3) At what ratios do people mix this with other organics, or soil?
4) Are some of the advantage in woodchips, or woody debris burned up in order to have Biochar?
5) What are the advantages over "regular" mulch...

I skip around so much it may be a while before I come back, but I think this would be helpful for the masses. Thanks in advance.
 
Sean Dembrosky
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Posts: 45
Location: Trumansburg, NY
9
chicken food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
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I think those are all good questions, and certainly ones that would have answers based on individual preferences / needs I'd think. I like the idea of making a lot of biochar... My reason is that I have 6 acres of land, most of it wooded with red pine with understory of european buckthorn and japanese honeysuckle. At least it used to be mainly that, I've cleared a ton...
I could rent a chipper and run a dirty, noisy, gas engine to break it down or make biochar with it. I've already woven huge brush walls around the land ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BlHrqpYnHI covers that discussion more), and so biochar makes sense.

In my first trials with it 3 years ago, the beds I added it to did incredibly well. I've since been making it with abandon and either carefully inoculating and using it in key applications (seed starting, transplanting, nursery beds, etc.) or just throwing it onto future beds in its corse, raw state so that in a few years it will begin its magic.

Unlike woodchips, it doesn't go anywhere. Beds where I've added woodchips 5-7 years ago, it's beautiful soil, but there is no legacy of the chip. Biochar I can still see in the soil years later, and it should be there for hundreds and hundreds more.

So for me, if I have corse, branchy funky stuff that isn't great for firewood and would take forever to break down if just laid up in piles the biochar route makes a ton of sense. I'll gladly take the woodchips from someone else who wants to pay for and own the nasty machine to make it!
 
Dean Howard
Posts: 112
Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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Sean Dembrosky wrote: So for me, if I have corse, branchy funky stuff that isn't great for firewood and would take forever to break down if just laid up in piles the biochar route makes a ton of sense. I'll gladly take the woodchips from someone else who wants to pay for and own the nasty machine to make it! :


I have tons of Juniper trimmings and was trying to coarse chop it into mulch. This makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the info
 
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