I'm trying to figure out what price for Biochar would really get the adoption rate up. Kind of an informal poll, for bulk purchase...should also be a fair price. I agree that a dollar a cubic yard would greatly speed up adoption....except it just economically won't happen.
1) What do you think a good price would be for a cubic yard of Biochar?
2) How about for a cubic yard of compost that was composted with Biochar such that the compost is something like 50+% Biochar that's all charged up and rearing to go?
I really want to start pushing to help get millions of pounds a year of Biochar into the ground in my surrounding communities. Thank you in advance for your opinions on this!!!
The first issue; Economics which is why most of the commercially produced biochar is so expensive, currently around 2 dollars per pound, sold in tons. (one pound will effectively treat 1/2 cubic foot of soil to create terra preta)
bio char is not sold by the cubic yard at this time that I have found. 1 cu.yd. = 27cu.ft., 1 cu.ft. char = 2 lb., 1 cu.yd. = 54lb. x 2.00 = $108 (+taxes)
The second issue; Viability of the product, this means confirmation that the microorganisms are there and will remain alive not only during transit but after application.
The third issue; acceptability by people entrenched in "Modern method" gardening and agriculture. this isn't "fertilizer" and the masses are saturated with the chemical companies advertising and most of the scientific community perpetuates the "grow it in dirt" mind set.
If you can get people out of this methodology and thinking more along the lines of "draught proofing your soil", then you will start to get them to consider the very real benefits of creating their own terra preta. (golf courses would benefit the most at this time)
Currently you have to buy your commercially produced, organism certified biochar at the rate of USD 2,000 + per ton.
Once you have it spread over the area to be treated, you have to incorporate the char into the soil (tillage) so it can work the magic.
In Trials, it generally takes one season for the effects to settle in and become stable.
Current recommendations (by the char selling companies) is to have a layer of char 1 foot or more thick, so for a 100 sq. ft. space you would use one ton of char.
If you add in the cost of producing compost/ biochar, you are looking at a price per pound of somewhere in the 3 dollar per pound range if the compost is 50% char.
I like the idea of the 50/50 biochar/compost split because there's a better chance of microorganisms continuing to thrive if there's compost for them to eat and to retain moisture.
I also think that perhaps it's compost you should be selling, as that's what people will be familiar with, the biochar acting as a substantial additive with serious benefits to microbiology and soil structure. If it's all organic, you can sell it at organic compost prices, at least. Those will vary by region, so check those out, too.
I could be wrong, but I think this approach will offer a larger initial client base of at least somewhat clued-in gardeners. Once those notice the benefits of your biochar-laden compost and start talking about it amongst themselves, you might at that point get demand for a straight biochar product, for use in domestic compost, which will obviate the need to keep delicate microbiology alive in the biochar in the absence of food and moisture.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
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