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Dan Burdus

Biochar Questionnaire

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Hi all,

 

Hope you can help - I'm studying for my Arb & Urban Forestry degree at Askham Bryan. I'm researching biochar for a project and have a short questionnaire to help me gather some data about how we handle our woodchip. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes - just highlight and open in a new window.

 

Thanks in advance for your help,

 

Dan.

 

https://goo.gl/forms/zuZgTMhLLF95zGqy1 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have been campaigning a little bit for biochar. At the moment it seems not a lot of people believe healing trees with this and other fertilizers is very realistic. However I think the tide is turning and tree conservation is becoming more and more a thing. 

 

Its all down to the cost of this stuff I would say. 

 

I read your survey. don't think it applies to me too much as I work on an historic estate and up until now chipping has not been the norm. Burning for bonfire night or other such solutions have been the norm. We do own a chipper but its out of action at the moment. 

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Not sure how much it does help as far as soil augmentation, but would be happy to see some tangible data if just to set a cost to benefit line on jobs . K

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1 hour ago, difflock said:

Biochar=Slash-and-burn, sadly, realistically, historically,

Hmmmm?

Perhaps think about that first.

Biochar is not the same as slash and burn but it has some related attributes.

 

Slash and burn clears land ready for agriculture whilst also making readily available minerals in the ash for crops, it also leaves a small proportion of charred  material in the soil. This points to char in the soil being innocuous if nothing else.

 

Historically where? The current enthusiasm comes from historical research in ancient south american cultures, tera preta des indios, where fertile soils with a heavy build up of char were identified in the midst of less fertile places.

 

Many soils under a good rotation are fertile and productive but other soils, particularly sandy ones have become leached out of available nutrients and abandoned.  Until trees become established and their fungal associates break down minerals from deeper strata the surface cannot regenerate, a few generations of trees and their litter and the shallow surface fertility has built up again, forest soils being the ultimate permaculture. So it's unlikely better soils will benefit but there is beginning to be an accumulation of evidence it does help as an additive on poorer soils.

 

Plus there is  of course its ability to function as a carbon sink  with voluntary credits beginning to become available to enable subsistence farmers to avoid a cash crop exporting soil fertility.

 

The problem I see in a developed world fad is that the biochar becoming a product  wastefully produced, rather than a co-product alongside a heat market.

 

Any of these modern clean burning stoves with over fire air happily produce char from dry wood and could be modified to separate it out before it burns.

 

If an arb company wished to demonstrate a zero or negative carbon footprint biochar is an obvious route to achieve that if you have the nouse to get it accredited and marketed.

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Is a factor in charcoal production ( fines ) which if you can incorporate other material such as composted woochip in it I can see how those materials would help soils improve. Wouldn't think it a silver bullet for compacted or contaminated soils, in the timescale most clients would want. K

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Biochar was part of my undergraduate dissertation. The biomass (measured above ground height and total weight) of clover increased with impressive statistical significance using soil with 5% biochar additive against control. Unfortunately for me this wasn't my primary hypothesis and the thing I was actually looking at had no change! But even a perceived failure is valuable scientifically.

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Never  understood the difference between biochar and charcoal. Sometimes biochar is called activated charcoal. supose to have more surface area or something for soil microbes to inhabit than regular charcoal.

 

Some infos......

 

https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/how-charge-biochar

 

Iv'e tried to research it bit its very  hard too wade through all the bullshit to find the real science behind it. Like said already I think the original idea comes from the creation of terra preta in the Amazon by the natives.

 

Biochar costs alot more than regular charcoal becasue its trendy amongst yoghurt weavers who, bleat on about mung beans and permaculture design courses.

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