what is BIOCHAR?
Biochar is a new word for an old idea: producing charcoal and adding it to the soil to make it more productive. I have a separate pinboard "Wood Gasification" which is related; volatile compounds in biomass may be gasified for energy, but you only get biochar if combustion air is closed off. All these images lead to well produced web pages and articles worth reading. Click through!
From Forbes Magazine, mainstream business attention: "Cool Planet: A Company That Makes Biochar And Gasoline"
Frank Strie says Tasmania needs to develop a carbon economy with biochar at the centre of the state's 'clean energy' mix. "Yes, it is a revolution but a friendly one. It's far more than just looking at biochar as a single entity. It's part of a much bigger process, and it fits into organic farming, with a clean, green and clever image and land restoration."
Cool Planet’s biochar production process features an extra step that tailors the biochar to best fit a particular application. As a result, field trials have shown Cool Terra can increase crop yields while reducing water and fertilizer inputs by as much as 50 percent.
Biochar quiets microbes, including some plant pathogens. In this experiment, E.Coli cultures are tested for microbes' ability to signal each other in the presence of biochar with various characteristics. The goal is to provide a simple guide to tailor production temperatures for intended uses.
"Working on solutions to some of the world’s threatening environmental challenges and creating the world we want to live in is a thrilling opportunity. At Remineralize the Earth we are doing just that – working on research that has the potential to alleviate many of the environmental and agricultural problems humanity faces today, such as climate change, air pollution, unsustainable agriculture, and poor water quality."
Kelpie Wilson writes about Baron Justus Liebig, who researched the applications of charcoal long before the age of industrial agriculture: "In the 19th century, the issues that biochar could help solve were related to health, disease, poverty, and above all, the recycling of human sewage to replenish the soil."
Biochar used for filtration at dirty energy's Ground Zero, Alberta: "On the tailings water we can remove up to 90 per cent of the organics and that should reduce significantly the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced when those organics in the tailings ponds get chewed up by the bacteria that live in those ponds and create methane gas."
A teaspoon of soil may have billions of microbes divided among 5,000 different types, thousands of species of fungi and protozoa, nematodes, mites and a couple of termite species. How these and other pieces all fit together is still largely a mystery. [..] “The greater the soil diversity, the fewer diseases that emerge in plants,” said Eric B. Nelson, who studies soil and disease ecology at Cornell.
Using biochar to reduce nitrous oxide emissions: "Nitrous oxide is generated by a natural process, the denitrification, caused by bacteria which transform nitrates from the soil. So, it has always been there. Then, why is it a problem? The reason is its growing tendency: year after year, more fertilizers are applied to larger fields which has increased the amount of nitrates in the soil and, therefore, the nitrous oxide emissions."
The web site for CarbonChar, a western NC biochar producer, has very informative and well-illustrated pages on biochar. "A microscopic view of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus growing on a corn root. The substance coating them is glomalin, revealed by a green dye."