[permaculture] arid soil building

Mathew Waehner waehner at gmail.com
Thu Dec 3 17:02:27 EST 2009


Rain:

There are some differences between charcoal and biochar.  Biochar is cooked
at a very low temperature, and it has to be soaked in compost tea for months
to overcome its water repellency and charge it with nutrients.    Charcoal
is relatively inert in soil, until it loses its hydrophobia, and then it
becomes a nutrient sponge that can rob your crops.  In a medeterranian
climate, it might never overcome its resistance to water.

Biochar can be made cleanly, and it releases less carbon than compost;
biochar lasts for centuries in soil before it oxidezes,  and compost lasts
years or decades, then oxidizes into the atmosphere.

I don't know if biochar would improve your soil or not; it is an emerging
science.  We only know that it is one ingredient in the magical Terra Preta
soils of the Amazon Basin.  In fact, the science is new enough that
everything I said earlier could be wrong!



On Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 4:34 PM, Scott Vlaun <scott at moosepondarts.com> wrote:

> Sounds like a great project. I've heard of excellent results on fruit
> crops, especially against fungal diseases, with aerobic compost tea
> which can be generated on site. A good brewer is bit of a project to
> make though and a commercial 10 gallon unit goes for about 400 US, so
> no cheap fix there. I think we're going to finally buy one after
> talking about making one for a few years.
>
> I think there are ways of making "char" fairly cleanly.
>
>
> Scott Vlaun
> Moose Pond Arts+Ecology
> Design Solutions for a Sustainable Future
>
> 450 Main Street, Studio 2
> Norway, Maine 04268
> http://www.moosepondarts.com
> 207-739-2409 Studio
>
>
>
>
> On Dec 3, 2009, at 4:21 PM, Rain Tenaqiya wrote:
>
> We live in a classic Mediterranean climate, with about 35 inches of
> rain that comes in intense bursts that usually start from the middle
> of October and start petering out in April.  I feel there must be a
> lot of knowledge about this climate given its long history in Europe.
>
> I have started to compost in pits because it takes so long above
> ground.  I have even used tarps, as was recommended.  They help, but
> I really need to irrigate the piles to see reasonable results.  We
> have all sorts of fungi from the forest nearby, so I don't think
> inoculants are necessary.
>
> Part of my problem could be that aside from the first year, when we
> had record floods, we have been in a drought.  Maybe this is the new
> normal, however.
>
> We collect and use all of our humunure and urine, and I bring in a
> ton of leaves and straw from around our site.  I also have several
> long-term wood compost piles.  I finally broke down and got some rock
> dust, zinc sulfate, and gypsum, for specific areas.  I've also
> brought in forest soil from nearby for the main food forest and
> kitchen garden, which also got a layer of horse manure from a
> neighbor.  I'm thinking about spraying seeweed on trees that are
> doing the worse.  In general, however, I really want to minimize off-
> site inputs.
>
> As far as biochar goes, the soil actually has a fair amount of
> charcoal from past fires.  I couldn't justify putting all that carbon
> in the air by burning all the wood around our site.  If I wait long
> enough, a wildfire might do it for me, however.  Hmm, interesting.
>
> Rain
>
>
>
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