What is Big Agriculture doing with Biochar?

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Offline erich

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What is Big Agriculture doing with Biochar?
« on: 12/07/2010 04:23:51 »
A Report on the US Biochar Conference at Iowa State University;
Session Presentations;
http://www.biorenew.iastate.edu/events/biochar2010/conference-agenda/agenda-overview.html [nofollow], and click on the title of the session you want.

What a whirlwind at ISU, What a lab that the $22M of Conoco oil money built, and the 40 Acres of field trials, just overwhelming.

My opening plenary was well received, particularly the closing humorist sermon on a Carbon Based Religion.  The plenary speakers I recruited were the talk of the conference; Gary DeLong on Soil Carbon Standards, and Laurens Rademakers of the Biochar Fund  http://biocharfund.org/ [nofollow]  (his Talk not posted yet)

My failures included;
Not getting Kyle Howell to speak on WalMart's Sustainability Index, or getting NASA-JPL to speak on Remote carbon sensor technology.

It was exciting to meet and inspiring to talk with people like Josiah Hunt and Trip Allen. Two men with the energy and knowledge to drive this market. Josiah, a passionate compost driven landscaper, (like myself) , His curiosity for the mysteries of the rhizosphere is palatable and lead to collaborations with U of H Microbiologist & agronomist. Trip, with equal energy and a clear whole ecology vision for southern California has "Biocharm"  on the market;  http://www.biocharm.com/ [nofollow]
Jeff Wallin shared a totally integrated ecological system for a Mahogany tree Farm / Pyrolysis plant / Tropical Ag & live stock Farm. Including Char feed rations, Small Hydro Power and Aquaculture. The most holistic thinking I have seen for any Biochar project.

Kelpie Wilson; Biochar educator par excellence.
Every Science teacher in the country should have been there.

Many Biochar Pathways and Value Streams disscussed;
There are about a dozen Large and medium Pyrolitic & Gasifier reactor manufacturers,
Optimizing for gas ,bio-oil or char dependent on setting / feedstocks / energy needs.
SynQest has a novel path of corn cob feedstock - to -  Anhydrous-Ammonia plus Biochar.

Highest value stream;
A dozen bagged char products on the home & nursery market,
Replacement of vermiculite and peat moss in growing mediums

Char composting amendment; Finished compost Retains 30% of the nitrogen normally emitted as GHG.

Soil Toxicity Remediation; High - P, manure feedstock chars sorbs heavy metals better that activated carbons. Also Atrazine , Dioxins and estrogens.

CharFeed ration; avoided methane belching  & medications, reduced bedding/litter ammonia emmisions & increased feed conversion, over all GHG emissions cut by half.

Laurens Rademakers; Biochar King of the Congo;

 ISU was so wise to have Laurens as the closing plenary speaker. So evocative, I left the hall tears streaming down my face, thinking of the potential for exponential growth across the continent.
 At the Iowa House, late into the evenings, spending time telling stories of his and my experiences in Africa, I found a most brilliant man. A culturally comprehensive understanding of the continent, His solutions cascade like rain and will fill each Hamlet & Community in turn. Bottom line; He doubled the income for thousands of subsistence farmers!
He gave me a hard time one night, in passing, about my superlative words on some of my postings where I said It was only time between him and a Nobel. Well, I recanted then, but after his powerfully moving presentation, Now I reinstate it.   Every mile saved walking for deforesting wood, Evey tree saved and every clean breath taken, lightens the load and helps to preserve this society and wonderful cultural legacy of pastoral & farming community.
 On my reflection of our discussions, I would add some other titles; "Whole Congo Ecologist", or "Socioeconomic Shaman" healing soil and self-esteem in the infrastructural chaos of Congo, or "Char Czar" We amend, We seed, We rule.
The next step is for village Pyrolitic electricity and Bio-Oil river transport.

Thanks for all of your efforts.

Erich J. Knight
Chairman; Markets and Business Review Committee
US BiocharConference,  at Iowa State University, June 27-30
http://www.biorenew.iastate.edu/events/biochar2010.html [nofollow]

EcoTechnologies Group Technical Adviser
http://www.ecotechnologies.com/index.html [nofollow]
Shenandoah Gardens (Owner)
1047 Dave Barry Rd.
McGaheysville, VA. 22840
540 289 9750
Co-Administrator, Biochar Data base & Discussion list  TP-REPP
Erich J. Knight


Offline erich

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What is Big Agriculture doing with Biochar?
« Reply #1 on: 09/12/2010 05:00:14 »
The Biochar Revolution

Review: The Biochar Revolution: Transforming Agriculture and Environment, ed. Paul Taylor

The General rule covering emerging technology,  that the "Latest book is the best book" is obfuscated by both the near simultaneous publication of The Biochar Revolution with The Biochar Solution and the complementary content of each work.

The Biochar Revolution reads like a encyclopedic companion and testimonial.
Dr. Taylor has the best people in academia & industry, as well as the grassroots, hands-on journeymen, as authors. Their personal travails and triumphs in development and applications of biochar soil technologies are inspiring. In the collaborative traditions of Astrophysics, Dr. Taylor's day job, these authoritative innovators allow you to view this cohesive whole system of sustainable carbon management.

The Australians are years ahead in broad field trials with many crops and in addition, have conservative political support of soil carbon sequestration. Paul opens a window on their consistent findings of increased yields, nutrient efficiency and major reductions in soil green house gas emissions.

Dr. Taylor has focused his cosmic perspective to the crisis our carbon based life has created with the mis-allocation of carbon. He lays out a path for carbon's re-allocation that garners high agricultural yields, biofuels, and generous climate dividends.

For the backyard shade tree mechanic to the sustainable energy entrepreneur, important lessons can be learned here. Simple to complex testing of biochars and soils, biological conditioning and formulations of chars are explained along with small scale home made pyrolitic cook stoves. The attention to the menagerie of clean biomass cook stoves for the developing world is prescient of the recent state department, CDC & DOE support of the UN Global Clean Stove Initiative for 100 million stoves.

Since carbon is the center of life , this work holds interest for everyone.

Erich J. Knight
Chairman; Markets and Business Committee
2010 US BiocharConference,  at Iowa State University

Kelpie Wilson, author, journalist and IBI Communications Editor has this to say about The Biochar Revolution;

Review: The Biochar Revolution: Transforming Agriculture and Environment, ed. Paul Taylor
I want to call this book: “Biochar, the Missing Manual.” This compendium of practical how-to articles on the art and science of biochar bridges the current gap between research and implementation of biochar systems. While basic research on the mechanisms of biochar-soil interactions proceeds at research institutions around the globe, farmers, blacksmiths, colliers and crafty inventors of all sorts have jumped into the business of biochar production and utilization. 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. Biochar producers show how they add minerals and nutrients to maximize the effectiveness of biochar, and seasoned biochar business operators share the rudiments of their business plans including information on feedstocks, flow rates and financing.
Because biochar is rooted in an ancient, proven practice, farmers feel empowered to experiment and are beginning to accumulate and document their results. But because biochar is new to science, it is not always possible to account for these results in a predictable fashion.  We are fortunate to have a vibrant, grassroots movement of biochar practitioners who are so generous in sharing their results with us. When practice and theory advance to the point where they meet in the middle, then we will truly see a biochar revolution.
-Kelpie Wilson, author, journalist and IBI Communications Editor

Mod Edit - Erich, it's really not acceptable to advertise a book for sale here.  I've removed the link, but would appreciate it if you would delete this post.  Ben
« Last Edit: 09/12/2010 15:10:14 by BenV »
Erich J. Knight


Offline landboy09

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What is Big Agriculture doing with Biochar?
« Reply #2 on: 19/12/2010 13:16:40 »
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".
[Spam link removed - Mod]
It was a great help in opening my mind to issues that affect us all.
« Last Edit: 19/12/2010 13:23:51 by peppercorn »


Offline erich

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Re: What is Big Agriculture doing with Biochar?
« Reply #3 on: 02/06/2012 06:54:37 »
CoolPlanet Biofuels,
a truly ground building announcement from CoolPlanet Biofuels, supported by BP, GE, Google & Conoco,  a pyrolitic/catalytic system delivering high surface area Biochar and 3000 gallons of tank ready fuel per acre. (from 25 Ton/ac Miscanthus grass) at $1.20/Gal.
President Mike Cheiky presenting to a Google audience his company's plans for "Negative-Carbon" biofuels, soil improvement, and poverty reduction.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkYVlZ9v_0o [nofollow]
Leo Manzer, A DuPont Fellow, is on the Technical Advisory Board

They calulate that 3000 gallons/acre by starting with the 25 tons per acre that Mississippi giant Miscanthus can yield;
http://www.repreverenewables.com/ [nofollow] ,
the highest I've ever seen, of any biomass crop hybrid.
The perennial beauty of miscanthus is in the land use issues, out-year gains in SOC and soil structure with reduced compaction, erosion and nutrient use.

One of the wonderful aspects of doing the eclectic research I do is the occasional crossover & coincidence.
The thread I started about Prion protien folding in epigenetics; ( http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar-policy/message/3669 [nofollow] )  lead to looking at other bioscience work at the Advanced Light Source (ALA), finding Dr. Jansson's work with tobacco, and sending him the prion work, and of course, with a note on Nikolaus Foidl's work with Biochar/aspirin plant signaling.
ALS is literaly shining a whole new light on biological structure, converging nanotech and biotech.

So this morning's coincidence was from Jim Lane of Biofuel Digest;
Hemingway’s Cats and Tobacco Road
Dr. Jansson's  research team believes that an acre of tobacco could produce as much as 1,000 gallons of drop-in, hydrocarbon fuels.
http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2012/02/29/hemingways-cats-and-tobacco-road/ [nofollow]

Whether your Cooley Coking 25 tons of Miscanthus, or squeezing tobacco juice into your tank, the bio-refining economy will be taking you places.
Doing both, the Miscanthus char amended tobacco could be yielding 1,200 gallons per acre here in Virginia. Hand in hand, with Miscanthus perennially building SOC in marginal lands, then using the  Miscanthus-char to mitigate the historical problems with tobacco exhausting the soil, a great synergy.

The ironies of the Columbian Exchange run deep, first, the pandemic die off which lost the Terra Preta soil culture - which extended the little ice age, starving Europe's bread eaters,  while saving the adaptive potato eaters - while the legacy of tobacco kills six million people each year -  while the study of Terra Preta charcoal soils modern versions,  provides a major wedge to save our climate. A new genetic legacy of Tobacco joins in the climate solution.
Erich J. Knight