[Market-farming] Charcoal Production - Was: Loss of Soil Carbon After Tilling

Wiener, Benjamin L CPT NG NG FORSCOM benjamin.l.wiener at us.army.mil
Fri Oct 30 09:02:48 EDT 2009


    Horticultural charcoal is basically good for pore space and surface area for bacterial and fungal colonization.  It has a tendancy to bind up nitrogen initally.  Biochar IS horticultural charcoal. Sometimes it is not as completely converted to char, but all nonchared portions will breakdown anyway.

   I have been toying with a retort design using 4ft diameter concrete culverts and two 55 gal barrels (and maybe one 40 gal. if I can make it fit) fired with wood.  The intent would be to produce biochar to replace perlite/vermiculite in container strawberry production. Biochar is made at hundreds of degrees F, perlite and vermiculite are made at thousands of degrees F (i.e more energy).  local waste reuse vs mined material trucked in. It will have to wait until I return from deployment.

for restoring large areas, mulching, composting or tilling in organic waste is more economical.  Shredded tree waste, spread on the surface and left to breakdown will soon be overrun with early successional plants (or weeds if you prefer that name).  I have a wonderful wild blackberry patch that was the bottom of a wood chip pile.  The wood chips were from powerline trimming and I used 5 truckloads in my yard and garden.  Great for composting poultry carcasses for those of you who home process your food.

Ben Wiener

----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Stewart <rstewart at zoomtown.com>
Date: Friday, October 30, 2009 14:34
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Charcoal Production - Was: Loss of Soil Carbon After Tilling
To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>


> Allan
> 
> No I do not.  I am trying to write up some proposals to prove that 
> its  
> a viable substitute for certain agriculture amendments but I am 
> way  
> out of my element and am looking for contacts to work with.
> 
> I saw your post on one of the biochar forums and would be curious 
> to  
> hear what sort of feed back you got.  I've been looking for folks 
> but  
> not getting much in return.  They all seem focused on the 
> developing  
> world.
> 
> In a nut shell I have a 45 acre dry gravel pit that has just be  
> reclaimed.  The soil is no longer stable, being a mix a clay, 
> shale,  
> and orginal farm soil overburden and I am looking at ways to bring 
> it  
> back into Ag use.  Right now its seems the best way to go is cover 
> 
> crops and animals, cover crop, mow and subsoil...repeat.
> 
> Biochar looked interesting, especially given our Emerald Ash borer 
> 
> problems here.  Its estimated that our county alone will lose 10 
> to  
> 12% of ALL trees (which happen to be ash) and we need to have a 
> couple  
> options on what to do with that organic matter.
> 
> Richard Stewart
> Carriage House Farm
> North Bend, Ohio
> 
> An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855
> 
> (513) 967-1106
> http://www.carriagehousefarmllc.com
> rstewart at zoomtown.com
> 
> 
> 
> On Oct 29, 2009, at 10:41 PM, Richard Stewart wrote:
> 
> > Tom
> >
> > That does not mean making biochar is not impossible.  There are 
> lots  
> > of thoughts on the matter including several commercial ventures. 
> It  
> > is possible to produce char without the polluting gasses in the  
> > quantities discussed here.
> >
> > Again, I am no expert on this and have not yet tested anything.
> >
> > http://news.cnet.com/greentech/?keyword=biochar
> >
> > Richard Stewart
> > Carriage House Farm
> > North Bend, Ohio
> >
> > An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855
> >
> > (513) 967-1106
> > http://www.carriagehousefarmllc.com
> > rstewart at zoomtown.com
> >
> >
> >
> > On Oct 29, 2009, at 1:20 PM, TMcD wrote:
> >
> >> --- On Wed, 10/28/09, Wiener, Benjamin L CPT NG NG FORSCOM <>> > wrote:
> >>
> >>> Tom, what do you intend to use as a
> >>> heat source to char the wood that doesn't use carbon?
> >>> Nuclear? solar? hydro?  At best, in the most efficient
> >>> designs, 40% of the carbon used in the process remains as
> >>> biochar.  then add in the fuel costs for transporting
> >>> the wood and then distributing the char, and then you can
> >>> see that it really isn't as "green" as you imagine.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Thank you very much for replying to my post.  I had no sooner  
> >> posted my first message when I realized that someone would probably  
> >> mention the CO2 emissions from the fuel used to heat the wood.  I  
> >> can't argue with that. Also, I've since found out that the fuel  
> >> used is often produced from the pyrolysis of the wood, so the CO2  
> >> emissions from the fuel burning actually do come from the wood  
> >> itself.  This pretty much reduces my post to a technically true  
> >> statement from a narrow point of view that fails to be helpful to  
> >> anyone.
> >>
> >> Sorry if I have wasted anyone's time.  I'll do way better in the  
> >> future, I promise.
> >>
> >> Thanks to Richard Stewart and Ben Wiener for their very astute  
> >> responses.
> >>
> >> Tom
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
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> >>
> >
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