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Offline Philip Small

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #25 on: 11/01/2007 05:31:41 »
Thouhgt you all would enjoy this from newbielink:http://"" [nonactive]:

   I've saved the best for last. Terra preta is new to Western science, but it is an old technology from the Amazon that disappeared when the native populations were wiped out by European diseases after Columbus.
    The technology of black earth is simple: Instead of slashing and burning the rainforest to make way for agriculture, long lost Amazonian civilizations burned forest slash in smoldering piles to make charcoal, and then buried the charcoal in the soil. This produces an astounding increase in soil fertility. The charcoal itself adds nutrients to soil, but it also acts as a sponge to absorb and retain any manures or other added fertilizers for very long periods of time. Some of the terra preta soils created more than 500 years ago are still highly fertile today.
    newbielink:http://"" [nonactive] (pdf) of tremendous magnitude. Here's how it would work: Farmers would start by growing biomass for energy - cornstalks, for instance. The material would be heated with solar furnaces to make the charcoal, which releases gases like methane. These gases can be collected and burned for energy. Then the charcoal gets buried in the fields, making them more productive. But the biggest prize of all is the carbon sequestration. This is a highly effective process for pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into long-term storage in the earth.
   The best thing about this idea is that anyone can do it. My resolution for 2007 is to try this in my own garden. But all the voluntary efforts of individuals and even corporations won't be enough to tackle the energy/climate crisis. We need a society-wide mobilization of resources to develop these excellent ideas and others, and put them into practice. My hope for 2007 is that the new Congress will be up to it.

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #26 on: 24/06/2007 07:41:21 »
 Terra Preta soils and closed-loop pyrolysis , the current news and links I hope will interest you.
Thanks,  Erich
SCIAM Article
After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology
can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales. It just needs to be seen by ethical globally minded companies.
Could you please consider looking for a champion for this orphaned Terra Preta Carbon Soil Technology.
The main hurtle now is to change the current perspective held by the IPCC that the soil carbon cycle is a wash, to one in which soil can be used as a massive and ubiquitous Carbon sink via Charcoal. Below are the first concrete steps in that direction;
Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.
Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Biomass by 2030
by Ralph P. Overend, Ph.D. and Anelia Milbrandt
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The organization 25x25 (see 25x'25 - Home) released it's (first-ever, 55-page )"Action Plan" ; see
On page 31, as one of four foci for recommended RD&D, the plan lists: "The development of biochar, animal agriculture residues and other non-fossil fuel based fertilizers, toward the end of integrating energy production with enhanced soil quality and carbon sequestration."
and on p 32, recommended as part of an expanded database aspect of infrastructure: "Information on the application of carbon as fertilizer and existing carbon credit trading systems."

 I feel 25x25 is now the premier US advocacy organization for all forms of renewable energy, but way out in front on biomass topics.

There are 24 billion tons of carbon controlled by man in his agriculture , I forgot the % that is waste, but when you add all the other cellulose waste which is now dumped to rot or digested or combusted and ultimately returned to the atmosphere as GHG, the balanced number is around 24 Billion tons. So we have plenty of bio-mass.

Even with all the big corporations coming to the GHG negotiation table, like Exxon, Alcoa, .etc, we still need to keep watch as they try to influence how carbon management is legislated in the USA. Carbon must have a fair price, that fair price and the changes in the view of how the soil carbon cycle now can be used as a massive sink verses it now being viewed as a wash, will be of particular value to farmers and a global cool breath of fresh air for us all.

If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP web site I've been drafted to co-administer.
It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus),  chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks  and probably many others who's back round I don't know have joined.
Also Here is the Latest BIG Terra Preta Soil news;
ConocoPhillips Establishes $22.5 Million Pyrolysis Program at Iowa State    04/10/07
Here is my current Terra Preta posting which condenses the most important stories and links;
Terra Preta Soils Technology To Master the Carbon Cycle
 Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did,............ and that now......... we are over doing it.
The prehistoric and historic records gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
I wonder what the soil biome carbon concentration was REALLY like before the cutting and burning  of the world's forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till and reforestation have started to help rebuild it.  It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology like an act of penitence, a returning of the misplaced carbon to where it belongs.
 On the Scale of CO2 remediation:
It is my understanding that atmospheric CO2 stands at 379 PPM, to stabilize the climate we need to reduce it to 350 PPM by the removal of 230 Billion tons of carbon.
The best estimates I've found are that the total loss of forest and soil carbon (combined
pre-industrial and industrial) has been about 200-240 billion tons.  Of
that, the soils are estimated to account for about 1/3, and the vegetation
the other 2/3.
Since man controls 24 billion tons in his agriculture then it seems we have plenty to work with in sequestering our fossil fuel CO2 emissions as stable charcoal in the soil.
As Dr. Lehmann at Cornell points out, "Closed-Loop Pyrolysis systems such as Dr. Danny Day's are the only way to make a fuel that is actually carbon negative". and that " a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year-an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions! "
Terra Preta Soils Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 1/3 Lower CH4 & N2O soil emissions, and 3X FertilityToo
This some what orphaned new soil technology speaks to so many different interests and disciplines that it has not been embraced fully by any.  I'm sure you will see both the potential of this system and the convergence needed for it's implementation.
The integrated energy strategy offered by Charcoal based Terra Preta Soil technology may
provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
structure without climate degradation, other than nuclear power.
The economics look good, and truly great if we had CO2 cap & trade or a Carbon tax in place.
.Nature article, Aug 06: Putting the carbon back Black is the new green:
 Here's the Cornell page for an over view:

University of Beyreuth TP Program, Germany

This Earth Science Forum thread on these soils contains further links, and has been viewed by 19,000 self-selected folks. ( I post everything I find on Amazon Dark Soils, ADS here):
Here's a Terra Preta web site at REPP-CREST I've been drafted to administer .
It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players, both academic and private companies, join the mail list & discussion, Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus),  chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., many Virginia Tech folks  and  many others who's back round I don't know have joined.
There is an ecology going on in these soils that is not completely understood, and if replicated and applied at scale would have multiple benefits for farmers and environmentalist.
Terra Preta creates a terrestrial carbon reef at a microscopic level. These nanoscale structures provide safe haven to the microbes and fungus that facilitate fertile soil creation, while sequestering carbon for many hundred if not thousands of years. The combination of these two forms of sequestration would also increase the growth rate and natural sequestration effort of growing plants.

The reason TP has elicited such interest on the Agricultural/horticultural side of it's benefits is this one static:
One gram of charcoal cooked to 650 C Has a surface area of 400 m2 (for soil microbes & fungus to live on), now for conversion fun:
One ton of charcoal has a surface area  of 400,000 Acres!!  which is equal to 625 square miles!!  Rockingham Co. VA. , where I live, is only 851 Sq. miles
Now at a middle of the road application rate of 2 lbs/sq ft (which equals 1000 sqft/ton) or 43 tons/acre yields 26,000 Sq miles of surface area per Acre.  VA is 39,594 Sq miles.
What  this suggest to me is a potential of sequestering virgin forest amounts of carbon just in the soil alone, without counting the forest on top.
To take just one fairly representative example, in the classic Rothampstead experiments in England where arable land was allowed to revert to deciduous temperate woodland, soil organic carbon increased 300-400% from around 20 t/ha to 60-80 t/ha (or about 20-40 tons per acre) in less than a century (Jenkinson & Rayner 1977). The rapidity with which organic carbon can build up in soils is also indicated by examples of buried steppe soils formed during short-lived interstadial phases in Russia and Ukraine. Even though such warm, relatively moist phases usually lasted only a few hundred years, and started out from the skeletal loess desert/semi-desert soils of glacial conditions (with which they are inter-leaved), these buried steppe soils have all the rich organic content of a present-day chernozem soil that has had many thousands of years to build up its carbon (E. Zelikson, Russian Academy of Sciences, pers. comm., May 1994).
All the Bio-Char Companies and equipment manufactures  I've found:
 Carbon Diversion
 Eprida: Sustainable Solutions for Global Concerns
BEST Pyrolysis, Inc. | Slow Pyrolysis - Biomass - Clean Energy - Renewable Ene
 Dynamotive Energy Systems | The Evolution of Energy
Ensyn - Environmentally Friendly Energy and Chemicals
Agri-Therm, developing bio oils from agricultural waste
Advanced BioRefinery Inc.
Technology Review: Turning Slash into Cash

The International Agrichar Initiative (IAI) conference  held at Terrigal, NSW, Australia in 2007. (  ) ( The papers from this conference are now being posted at their home page)
If pre-Columbian Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 15% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.
Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi changes the whole equation of energy return over energy input (EROEI) for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap fossil fuels for fertilizer.
We need this super community of wee beasties to work in concert with us by populating them into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.
I feel Terra Preta soil technology is the greatest of Ironies.
That is: an invention of pre-Columbian American culture, destroyed by western disease, may well be the savior of industrial western society.

Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
E-mail: shengar at
(540) 289-9750


Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #27 on: 13/09/2007 07:18:38 »

The Honolulu Advertiser: “The nation's leading manufacturer of charcoal has licensed a University of Hawai'i process for turning green waste into barbecue briquets.”

About a year ago I got Clorox interested in TP soils and Dr. Antal's Plasma Carbonazation process.


Mechabolic , a pyrolysis machine built in the form of a giant worm to eat solid waste and product char & fuel at the "Burning Man" festival ;

ECOGEEK interview with Karl Schroeder , a Sci-Fi writer has seen the TP vision , although it's The Kayopo (Spelling?) who should be getting the credit verses the Mayan. Months ago I nominated them to Richard Branson for a posthumous Carbon Prize.

ECOGEEK: You mention 'agrichar' in your Billion Dollars wishlist. That's not something I was very familiar with (though I think I got the gist of it after a little quick Google search). Can you tell us a little more about it (and why it's important or useful), or suggest a good website or link for more information for readers who would like to learn more about this?

Karl Schroeder: Agrichar is a modern version of "Terra Preta" which was used centuries ago in the Amazon basin to allow the nutrient-poor soils there to produce lavish crops. It's basically a burn-and-bury process that sequesters carbon, replaces commercial fertilizers, revives dying soils, and all in all is a perfect technique for long-term sustainable soil health. Simple enough that the Mayans could perfect it, with the potential to be used all over the world. It's a pretty new process so there's not too many sources of information out there about it, unfortunately. But it's precisely the sort of transformative technology we need.

Here's an image of a wood sculpture sent to me by Jerard Pearson, a crop/compost artist who is planning a large scale charcoal / Chalk piece of field art at the state fair grounds near Omaha. He has been trying to buy Char from T. Beer at Kingsford, but getting no response. He plans to use a hydro-seeder with a mixture of Char and cellulose mulch as a wet "air brush" to paint the field. I hope it will draw some media attention for TP soils.

This wood sculpture, in my mind, conjures up inoculant spores carried aboard the "char delivery vehicle" beginning the process of sending out hyphae. Gorgeous.

Check out the other wood sculptures by this Frenchman dude. Pretty cool.

Getting Char into the soil;

The Rotocult Horizontal Cultivator is being hailed in all sectors of the agricultural industry as a revolution that has now provided farmers with an 'alternative' to using the "traditional" methods of cultivation. It's a Horizontal orbital action which slices the earth, incorporates trash without cultivating the inner space resulting in less soil disturbance, greater moisture retention, significant fuel and time savings and less maintenance. Now with one double row cultivator it is possible for one man and a single machine to cultivate up to 1 hectare per hour with a single pass and follow up with a planter almost immediately.

Here is a reply I just received from the inventor;

"Thank you for your email Erich. It was very interesting reading.

Rotocult can cultivate to a depth of 18” while incorporating organic matter in one pass.

Should you require detailed information or a movie CD please contact us.


John Wilkinson


Natascha Wilkinson


1 Gill Street

Atherton Qld 4883

Ph: 07 4091 1833

Fax: 07 4091 1653



Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
1047 Dave Berry Rd.
McGaheysville, VA. 22840
(540) 289-9750

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #28 on: 27/10/2008 04:27:41 »
Biochar Update

Charles Mann ("1491") in the Sept. National Geographic, has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage to solve climate change.
I think Biochar has climbed the pinnacle, the Combined English and other language circulation of NGM is nearly nine million monthly with more than fifty million readers monthly!
We need to encourage more coverage now, to ride Mann's coattails to public critical mass.

Please put this (soil) bug in your colleague's ears. These issues need to gain traction among all the various disciplines who have an iron in this fire.

I love the "MEGO" factor theme Mann built the story around. Lord... how I KNOW that reaction.

I like his characterization concerning the pot shards found in Terra Preta soils;

so filled with pottery - "It was as if the river's first inhabitants had
thrown a huge, rowdy frat party, smashing every plate in sight, then
buried the evidence."

A couple of researchers I was not aware of were quoted, and I'll be sending them posts about our Biochar group:

and data base;

I also have been trying to convince Michael Pollan ( NYT Food Columnist, Author ) to do a follow up story, with pleading emails to him

Since the NGM cover reads "WHERE FOOD BEGINS" , I thought this would be right down his alley and focus more attention on Mann's work.

I've admiried his ability since "Botany of Desire" to over come the "MEGO" factor (My Eyes Glaze Over) and make food & agriculture into page turners.

It's what Mann hasn't covered that I thought should interest any writer as a follow up article.

The Biochar provisions by Sen.Ken Salazar in the 07 & 08 farm bill,

Dr, James Hansen's Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference last month, and coming article in Science, with Biochar land management center stage.

The many new university programs & field studies, in temperate soils

Glomalin's role in soil tilth & Terra Preta,

The International Biochar Initiative Conference Sept 8 in New Castle;

Given the current "Crisis" atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?

Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!

This technology represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.
Terra Preta Soils a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration,10X Lower Methane & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too. Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration.

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.


Erich J. Knight
540 289 9750

P.S. : Biochar Studies at ACS Huston meeting;



665 - III.


Most all this work corroborates char soil dynamics we have seen so far . The soil GHG emissions work showing increased CO2 , also speculates that this CO2 has to get through the hungry plants above before becoming a GHG.
The SOM, MYC& Microbes, N2O (soil structure), CH4 , nutrient holding , Nitrogen shock, humic compound conditioning, absorbing of herbicides all pretty much what we expected to hear.

Johannes Lehmann <> recent work;

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

Offline erich

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What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #29 on: 11/12/2008 04:39:42 »


Biochar, the carbon-negative soil-improving energy biproduct, has made an incredible series of breakthroughs at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland.

The International Biochar Initiative,, announced today that Biochar is now being examined by the UNFCCC (United Nations Council on Climate Change) for status as part of the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism.)

It's verifiable, it produces clean energy, it improves soils, it reverses desertification, it improves water quality, it could drive millions out of poverty, and it may be one of humanity's single greatest tools for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

A copy of the proposal is posted on the IBI website at

Offline beem

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What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #30 on: 04/02/2009 01:47:21 »
...Delighted this continues to gain momentum.

I've used charcoal in the garden (waste from the new and very efficient woodburning airtight stove; the fuel was birch, sometimes applewood).
But only sprinkled it around Clematis and other 7.0 to 7.3 pH-desiring plants.

After reading (almost all)  [^] this topic, my question:

Wouldn't tilling charcoal into the soil raise the pH into undesirable levels for, say, rhododendron ornamentals, indeed specimen oak trees, which prefer an acidic (5.2 to 5.5) soil?

Or are the moisture retention, etc. benefits to the tilled area so substantial that a plant won't care what pH the soil is?

This would immensely satisfy my desire to "Think globally, act locally"


Offline erich

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What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #31 on: 15/09/2009 06:45:47 »
Dear Naked Sci,
A lot has been happening since I started this thread,below are the links;

Biochar Soils.....Husbandry of whole new orders & Kingdoms of life

Biotic Carbon, the carbon transformed by life, should never be combusted, oxidized and destroyed. It deserves more respect, reverence even, and understanding to use it back to the soil where 2/3 of excess atmospheric carbon originally came from.

We all know we are carbon-centered life, we seldom think about the complex web of recycled bio-carbon which is the true center of life. A cradle to cradle, mutually co-evolved biosphere reaching into every crack and crevice on Earth.

It's hard for most to revere microbes and fungus, but from our toes to our gums (onward), their balanced ecology is our health. The greater earth and soils are just as dependent, at much longer time scales. 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. Agriculture allowed our cultural accent and Agriculture will now prevent our descent.

Wise Land management; Organic farming 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.

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.

This is what I try to get across to Farmers, as to how I feel about the act of returning carbon to the soil. An act of penitence and thankfulness for the civilization we have created. Farmers are the Soil Sink Bankers, once carbon has a price, they will be laughing all the way to it.

Dr. Scherr's report includes biochar.

I think we will be seeing much greater media attention for land management & biochar as reports like her's come out linking the roll of agriculture and climate.

Unlike CCS which only reduces emissions, biochar systems draw down CO2 every energy cycle, closing a circle back to support the soil food web.  The photosynthetic  "capture" collectors are up and running, the "storage" sink is in operation just under our feet.  Pyrolysis conversion plants are the only infrastructure  we need to build out.

Another significant aspect of bichar and aerosols are the low cost ($3) Biomass cook stoves that produce char but no respiratory disease.  and village level systems  with the Congo Basin Forest
Fund (CBFF). The Biochar Fund recently won $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
(4) Climate change.

There are dozens soil researchers on the subject now at USDA-ARS.
and many studies at The up coming  ASA-CSSA-SSSA joint meeting;

Major Endorsements:

1000 word Science section in the Economist!
The virtues of biochar: A new growth industry? | The Economist

Senator / Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has done the most to nurse this biofuels system in his Biochar provisions in the 07 & 08 farm bill,

NASA's Dr. James Hansen Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference, placing Biochar / Land management the central technology for carbon negative energy systems.

Dr. James Lovelock (Gaia hypothesis) says  Biochar is  "The only hope for mankind"

Charles Mann ("1491") in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage.

Tony Blair & Richard Branson in the UK and conservative party opposition leader  John Turnbull in Oz.

Soil Carbon Sequestration Standards Committee.  Hosted by Monsanto, this group of diverse interests has been hammering out issues of definition, validation and protocol. The past week, this group have been pressing soil sequestration's roll for climate legislation to congress.

Along these lines internationally,  the work of the IBI fostering the application by 20 countries for UN recognition of soil carbon as a sink with biochar as a clean development mechanism  will open the door for programs across the globe.

This new Congressional Research Service report (by analyst Kelsi Bracmort) is the best short summary I have seen so far - both technical and policy oriented. .

This is the single most comprehensive report to date, covering more of the Asian and Australian work;

Biochar data base;

Disscusion Groups;
The group home page location, General orientation:
Biochar (
Biochar POLICY;
Biochar Soils;
Biochar Production;

Earth Science Terra Preta Forum;
Terra Preta - Science Forums

The first North American Biochar Conference,  at CU  in Boulder ,
Keynote speakers were  Secretary Tom Vilsack & Dr. Susan Solomon (NOAA's head atmospheric scientist)

 My attendance is thanks to the folks at EcoTechnologies Group . ,  they have also fully funded my field trials with the Rodale Institute & JMU, Brief dicription & photos at:
There is real magic coming out of the Asian Biochar conference.
15 ear per stalk corn with 250% yield increase,
Sacred Trees and chickens raised from near death
Multiple confirmations of 80% - 90% reduction of soil GHG emissions

The abstracts of the conference are at

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

Erich J. Knight
Eco Technologies Group Technical Adviser
University of California Riverside advisory board member
Shenandoah Gardens (Owner)
1047 Dave Barry Rd.
McGaheysville, VA. 22840
540 289 9750
Co-Administrator, Biochar Data base & Discussion list  TP-REPP

Other Company News, EU Certification & Recent Field Trials

Below is an important hurtle that 3R AGROCARBON has overcome in certification in the EU. Given that their standards are set much higher than even organic certification in the US, this work should smooth any bureaucratic hurtles we may face.

EU Permit Authority - 4 years tests
Subject: Fwd: [biochar] Re: GOOD NEWS: EU Permit Authority - 4 years tests successfully completed

Doses: 400 kg / ha – 1000 kg / ha at different horticultural cultivars

Plant height Increase 141 % versus control
Picking yield Increase 630 % versus control
Picking fruit Increase 650 % versus control
Total yield Increase 202 % versus control
Total piece of fruit Increase 171 % versus control
Fruit weight Increase 118 % versus control



Hopefully all the Biochar companies will coordinate with Dr. Jeff Novak's soils work at ARS;

I spoke with Jon Nilsson of the CarbonChar Group, in their third year of field trials ;
An idea whose time has come | Carbon Char Group
He said the 2008 trials at Virginia Tech showed a 46% increase in yield of tomato transplants grown with just 2 - 5 cups (2 - 5%) "Biochar+" per cubic foot of growing medium.

 Most recent studies out;

Imperial College test,
 this work in temperate soils gives data from which one can calculate savings on fertilizer use, which is expected to be ongoing with no additional soil amending.

The BlueLeaf Inc. and Dynamotive study are exciting results given how far north the site is,and the low application rates. I suspect, as we saw with the Imperial College test, the yield benefits seem to decrease the cooler the climate.
The study showed infiltration rates for moisture are almost double. The lower leaf temperatures puzzles me however, I thought around 21C was optimum for photosynthesis.

BlueLeaf Inc. and Dynamotive Announce Biochar Test Results CQuest(TM) Biochar Enriched Plots Yield Crop Increase Ranging From Six to Seventeen Percent vs. Control Plots

The full study at Dynomotives site;

Low Tech Clean Biochar;

Offline erich

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What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #32 on: 04/11/2009 06:29:08 »
All political persuasions agree, building soil carbon is GOOD.
To Hard bitten Farmers, wary of carbon regulations that only increase their costs, Building soil carbon is a savory bone, to do well while doing good.

Biochar provides the tool powerful enough to cover Farming's carbon foot print while lowering cost simultaneously.

Another significant aspect of bichar is removal of BC aerosols by low cost ($3) Biomass cook stoves that produce char but no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing "Three Stone" stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria.  and village level systems
 The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).recently funded  The Biochar Fund $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
(4) Climate change.

The Biochar Fund :
Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon

The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )

Mark my words;
Given the potential for Laurens Rademaker's programs to grow exponentialy, only a short time lies between This man's  nomination for a Noble Prize.

This authoritative PNAS article should cause the recent Royal Society Report to rethink their criticism of Biochar systems of Soil carbon sequestration;

Reducing abrupt climate change risk using
the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory
actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions

There are dozens soil researchers on the subject now at USDA-ARS.
and many studies at The up coming  ASA-CSSA-SSSA joint meeting;

Senator Baucus is co-sponsoring  a bill along with Senator Tester (D-MT) called WE CHAR.  Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration Act!  It focuses on promoting biochar technology to address invasive species and forest biomass.  It includes grants and loans for biochar market research and development, biochar characterization and environmental analyses.  It directs USDI and USDA to provide loan guarantees for biochar technologies and on-the-ground production with an emphasis on biomass from public lands.   And the USGS is to do biomas availability assessments. - S. 1713, The Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration (WECHAR) Act of 2009

Individual and groups can show support for WECHAR by signing online at:

Congressional Research Service report
(by analyst Kelsi Bracmort) is the best short summary I have seen so far - both technical and policy oriented. .

United Nations Environment Programme, Climate Change Science Compendium 2009

Bill Clinton said Biochar;
Mantria Industries inducted in Clinton Global Intuitive

Al Gore got the CO2 absorption thing wrong, ( at NABC Vilsack did same), but his focus on Soil Carbon is right on;

The future of biochar - Project Rainbow Bee Eater

Japan Biochar Association ;

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

The Naked Scientists Forum

What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #32 on: 04/11/2009 06:29:08 »


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