Biochar Workshop Part 2, Why to Make Biochar
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Biochar Workshop Part 2, Why to Make Biochar


Now that I’ve shown you how to make it. I
want to talk a little bit about why to make it. I’ll tell you a little bit about my personal
story cause that’s most of what I’ve got to share. I’m just a farmer who decided to focus
on biochar because I saw the opportunity and I wanted to share it with other people. So
on my little farm up in Massachusetts I started clearing land and I quit my job and said I’m
gonna grow stuff instead cause I hated my 9 to 5 and I quickly found that I was sitting
on a big sandbar which is what Cape Cod is where I live. Its sand and rocks and sand
and pebbles left behind by the sheets of ice that came down in the last Ice age. So I quickly
started trying to figure out how to turn that sand into usable soil and stumbled across
biochar in a book called 1491 which is a story of the history of North and South America
before the Europeans got here and started messing with it and in the little section
in the back of the book is talked about these Native Americans that lived along the Amazon
that made this incredibly fertile soil to the point where the scientists were going
to study it because they couldn’t figure how they did it and I’ve actually traveled down
there and seen it. It’s called terra preta which means black soil or dark soil and they
also have terra mulata which is sort of outside of the terra preta which is a dark soil that
was also created for growing things and very very obviously created on purpose by people.
So you go and you stand in this field in the Amazon basin which I always pictured the rain
forest as being like the most fertile place in the world and it’s actually the opposite.
It’s forest because there’s lots of water and lots of sun but it’s not fertile. It is
solid clay. To get to the sites that we went to you had to climb 30 feet of slippery solid
clay. They had to puts stairs and steps and boards across it just to walk across it. Solid
thick clay. So this is what the people were living on there and trying to grow things
in and it must’ve taken them generations and generations of figure it out but somehow they
figured out that if you put charcoal and other waste products and compost and so forth in
the soil you’re gonna get much better growth out of your crops and they did it to the point
where they spent thousands of years and generations and generations and now it’s piled up and
still there. Some of it thousands of years old has not washed away like all the other
nutrients in the jungle. When you get this clay base and you get all that rain in the
rain forest, it just washes all the nutrients away. We actually got a chance to walk back
into the rain forest and they showed us. He’d go in and take the leaves they’d pile up away
and you’d see the roots of the trees are growing up out of the ground because they’re competing
for whatever nutrients are falling out of the forest. They’re not growing down into
it. It was is really bizarre to see but there’s all these roots coming up toward you if you
sweep away the leaves and so forth so they’re going after that stuff as it’s decaying faster
the than it can even become soil but in the spots where they’ve found the terra preta
that they now understand is an old place where there was a city of people living. Literally
walking through this farmer’s field you’d reach down and grab a fistful of the soil
and it”s black and rich and smells like most wonderful soil you’ve ever seen and there’s
big chunks of pottery in it everywhere so it’s really obviously anthropogenic soil.
At one point I said to the farmer, I said wow that’s a beautiful orange you’ve got there
I mean this orange tree was very large and the branches were so overloaded with fruit
that they were touching the ground they couldn’t hold all the fruit and fruit were huge. I
thought there were grapefruit at first and he said no that’s an orange tree and they
were all dark green they weren’t even ripe yet and I said how long’s that tree been there?
Oh that one that’s only two years old. Two years old?! That’s how good this soil is.
So now they compete for that soil in Brazil and other South American places they actually
mine it for potting soil and sell it in the cities. They talk about a growing back that
you can actually take a layer of it off and I believe what’s happening there is that it
is so rich and the stuff does grow on it so much and it brings in so much biology and
that is all decaying into it that it actually promotes the building of the soil that you
want. Even though you’ve already taken some off of it does keep growing stuff so fast
that then decays, that it does come back to some degree. It’s obviously not coming back
as terra preta cause nobody’s adding more burnt carbon into it but it is promoting the
buildup of the soil even though it’s most of it’s gone what’s underneath so I think
that’s where that legend is coming from because it has actually been documented by scientists
down there, that it is building the soil even after they’ve harvested most of it. So I found
out about that I started making it in little cans on fires in my own my own yard as I was
clearing my land I’d make char and I grow these turnips that are ridiculous. That have
been grown in Eastham Massachusetts for the last 150 years and nobody really knows where
they came from. I mean talk about legends there’s all sorts of ideas on who started
these things but they’re big turnips begin with and they’re worth a lot of money to me
because it’s a niche crop that is people go crazy for them. No problem I can sell every
giant turnip I can grow no matter how big it is so when I tried the first time after
reading this book, making a little charcoal and putting it in a row with my turnips. The
turnips doubled in size compared to the rows where I hadn’t done it and I thought whoa
this is too good to be true and I tried it on everything I could find and it helped pretty
much everything on my farm, not everything. There were cases where I did some damage and
we’ll talk about that too. Maybe John can talk about that more. Things not to do with
biochar that can cause problems especially in the short term but by putting a strip into
the the turnips you could see from hundreds of yards away the difference in those plants.
It looked like a different species of plant and literally the ones that I put it on were
twice as big as the ones that I hadn’t put it on but I’ve grown them 28 pounds one year
32 pounds one year. I mean the thing was the size of a basketball and you look at it, this
big ugly root and people think oh that’s probably all pithy and no good to eat. I cut that thing
up, I made over $100 on one turnip. What variety? It’s an Eastham turnip. I brought one with
me. Now that turnip just you sat in the back of my truck and rode here 1000 miles at a
60 mile-per-hour wind and that’s a baby that’s not a full-grown. It’ll be two or three times
that big by the time I harvest them and the leaves are very good to eat to, even when
they’re that big. The bigger they are the sweeter they are. No I went out in the field
and just grabbed one and stuck it in a bucket to take to the symposium so that’s been a
week at the symposium under the fluorescent lights I thought it was dead and then Pat
stuck in the greenhouse now it’s fine but it’s an amazing plant that will grow after
it’s been buried in the snow the snow will melt off and they’ll go back to growing and
that will turn into a 7 foot cedar in the spring all covered with beautiful yellow flowers
all of which are also edible that I found out from one of my chef friends. That’s the
same as most of the ones in my fields up North which are, they’re probably growing faster
up there cause they like the cold weather than it would down here but as soon as we
get a frost we’ll start harvesting now yeah but you can’t harvest until you get a frost
cause it really changes the flavor. So that’s how I got into biochar once I realized
what it was doing for my soil I then went online and thought I wonder if anyone else
is doing this and of course there’s a whole international community of people doing this
through to the IBI which is the organization that did those posters out there is the big
one that I recommend if you want to learn more.
So my Name is John Nilsson and I am with Chargrow. Chargrow is a newly formed LLC here in Mills
River based out of stuff me and Bob were already doing. I put this up here earlier because
if you haven’t seen this video it’s pretty neat it’s a BBC video It’s a little dramatic,
It’s you know starts out like duhn duhn duhn duhn you know you get into it but in the search
for El Dorado they do talk about selling the soil .They do talk about how they didn’t do
slash and burn in those days they did slash and char. They were smarter than us and Thomas
Mann totally through the work in his book 1491 through the work of archaeologists you
can see that he’s basically totally rewriting US history because it’s the history of US
prior to Columbus and it’s really good because they were managing land on a very large scale
here so the whole thing that we’ve been taught when I was a kid anyway is oh there’s just
a few native tribes and they we’re just over on the outskirts here. No there were really
high populations of people managing really big acres of land so even the whole conservation
ethic to get it back to this special place this eden. The eden that the first white folks
got to was being managed you know so it’s pretty interesting stuff and I have all another
piece about that but I first wanted to get everybody on the same page with the search
for El Dorado terra preta. That’s showing you what native people were doing in both
North and South America prior to colonization and what was interesting about those folks.
They were feeding a huge amount of people. The first Spaniards that it came up the Amazon
said the agriculture was on par with anything they’d seen in Europe and the buildings touched
each other for 14 miles on both sides of the river and as far as they could see in we’re
settlements so it was a very very high population and they had to grow a lot of food and they
did not have steel and they did not have domesticated animals so you could imagine how tough their
agriculture was. It was all by hand in the only edge they had was superior soil fertility
methods and that’s how I first got into it. Pat’s probably not around yet but Pat was
one of the first people that said hey they do this thing you know and they put the charcoal
the soil and the first thing I said was yeah that’s gonna fly. How could you afford to
make the charcoal? That’s just skip it. Another guy mentioned it and I don’t know who told
me next but they said hey there’s this guy at the University of Georgia and he’s making
power while he’s making the char and that’s when I went okay I’m in and you know so I
went down there and learned from him what they were doing. That was a company called
Aprita. I don’t know where they are these days, they’ve kind of imploded but they were
getting to this thing while wait is second if we can if we can make some profit at this
thing and use the energy now I might be able to go to the back and go hey maybe this is
good for agriculture. Concurrently at the time I come from the compost industry and
I’m a consultant in that and what I was working on is how do you get the biology into the
growing medium most efficiently as possible so their I was making potting soil with compost
where the potting soil contained about 40% by volume compost and I could even make it
so it could suppress damping off which is a common rhizoctonia disease in greenhouses
and I was like wow this is gonna be great like I can do this but we were selling our
potting soil in little bags to white flower farms in Connecticut and there were using
it for growing all these bulbs and everybody loved it. The project lasted one year and
then they canceled everything and we were like, well I thought you liked this stuff.
Yeah we did like it. Well what was the problem. They didn’t keep track of their, it’s a mail-order
business and they didn’t keep track of their postage till the end of the season and our
product weighted two to three times more so the cost of shipping they had the same price
on the shipping totally killed the project and somebody probably got fired and so I realized
well while I can’t deliver this biology very far maybe 50 miles in a tractor-trailer in
potting soil weights too much to go into conventional markets. Well great idea it’s not gonna fly
and that potting soil still does sell and a lot of organic growers will put up with
a heavier weight potting soil but a conventional grower won’t. He’s got machinery that, he’s
got flats that are all designed to very light mixes. So how do you deliver the biology lighter
and I played around calcined clay and expanded shales and I had this one consulting job with
these guys and they had played around with carbon and I was like whoa this stuff is off
the charts so from there I started helping develop the original chargrow is a concentrate
that is based on biochar carbon so it’s basically carbons, microbes, substrates and foods and
with one of the people that I was consulting for. Me and him went on to create a trade
secret formula and we get uh when you put it in about 3% by volume of a potting soil
we get a 51% increase in tomato yield at first pick so that was concurrently going on while
I was hearing about aprita and I quickly thought wow we’ve got to figure out how to make our
own char or else it’s still gonna be really expensive and so that’s what got me into biochar
and then all the applications like Bob and I quickly I was like look this works. Where
do you get the thing that makes it and what scale and can it go into agriculture and around
and around and around on that and that’s what led me to where I am here today. No soil becomes
terra preta just because you added char. Okay so when we we’re at the growers school this
past spring, one of the guys who presented got really into the char and he said aw man
I put it in my soil and that was my worst year ever and the reason why is char by itself
is that charcoal filter it sucks up stuff sucks up water, nutrients ,organisms so if
you don’t have a lot of stuff going on already in the soil it can tie up stuff reduce yield
the first year so it’s like that charcoal filter right. In your water filter maybe you
have a Britta filter or something like that and it’s got all the char balls in there and
the water is coming through and it’s filtering and after about a year they say throw out
the filter that’s cause the filter is now loaded. Well in the field the little chunks
of char are like the filter and they’re gonna suck up stuff. So if you want to stack the
cards in your favor you want to load the filter, your gonna load the char so now it holds the
biology you want. That’s why blending with compost and things like that can get this
so this will be releasing and the other thing that’s going on in that, you can think of
the char as this, I always start with a golf ball and the golf ball will have these little
dips in it and if the char is made well, than those little dips are cleaned out and now
you got internal pore structure. You can have a gram of char have the surface area of two
tennis courts and that seems hard to believe but it’s all a internal pore structure and
what that does for the soil is it holds whole nutrient but not as important as holding the
organisms that do not nutrient cycling process. So when a plant is growing and there’s sun
light, photosynthate is made through photosynthesis and carbohydrates and Sugars go into the leaves
and into the roots and the plant puts it out of the roots so the plants puting out simple
sugars and carbohydrates out of its roots continuously. It’s doing that to feed the
organisms. To get them on their infection sites cause organisms through their hyphae
and their enzymes can get nutrients that are out in the soil that the plant can’t get by
itself so that’s what going on and what char does is it’s a safe harbor for those organisms
it’s the super concentrate they can hatch out even if things got bad out here like what
could get bad? High salt fertilizers kill the process so this bio-inoculent that I’ve
made called chartgrow concentrate. It works but you can kill it and so it’s a great biological
tool. We have chemical physical and now we have biological tools that we can use and
the char is key to that so the char by itself doesn’t do the trick, it’s when it interacts
with organisms and so the extra part of the terra preta, what happened was here in the
example of terra preta cultures what they found was the natives had these large areas
were they were adding the char to their feces. Basically they had a waste management problem
to with a lot of people in high concentration so you’d have your manure piles ‘humanure’
and you could put the char over the top and now it would help to sterilize things and
get it to break down and so now there’s more people that have looked at that look at that
and so by doing that method it led to the char being loaded with nutrients which is
what were doing in the soil amendments were gonna make here and the surface of the char
is oxidized and so you’re changing the surface chemistry and it can hold more and those two
things together is what gets you the terra preta so the terra preta didn’t happen overnight
is was loaded with manure and they now think it took up to centuries to get it’s full fertility
but the thing is it doesn’t stop it just keeps building and so some of the scientist out
there are going oh wow you know it’s crazy you can’t add 100 tons per hectare. Well no
you wouldn’t want to you wouldn’t be profitable anymore right so but you can add a little
bit at a time continually building your soil over time and that’s really how you get to
this big benefit in fertility so I wanted to bring that up. This group here. I’m trying
to remember how he said it ‘Ithaka’ is what he said. Hans-Peter Schmidt he was at the
biochar conference that just happened up in Massachusetts. He Skyped it in, he couldn’t
phone it in so he Skyped in his presentation he did his Skype presentation and he showed
all the applications and I think one of the most interesting things here on the second
page is the cascaded use so he is like please like an agricultural R&D firm nonprofit figuring
stuff out. I believe he said he was on some lie 40 farms with with this and repeating
and repeating what he was doing so he could put it in the silage and then the silage is
feed to the cow but he could also put in the feed so it goes into the feed additive supplement
then it’s on the floor were the cows are walking around as a liter additive. Then it can be
after the manure comes out in slurry, throw little more in there so all the things he’s
doing are taken it through the food system through the cow even. It’s sucking up nutrients,
it’s changing that surface chemistry making it more and more loaded and then even water
treatment and fish farming so I wanted to put this out there and this is on the Living
Web Farms website but I wanted to put this out there so you could start to see that there
so many applications and in bioremediation char is actually gonna disrupt the market
in that traditionally they’ve use either compost and it breaks down to easy or they’ve used
activated carbon which is really expensive and now we have a cheaper form. In remediation
one of the things will be a new road or they’ll be a runoff problem and they’ll do his thing.
This is side view and this thing is just a tube with some material that’s filled with
char and a little bit of compost so the water runs off, hits that and it’s constantly being
filtered, cleaned as a goes and then this has a little bit of compost in it so pretty
soon it’s the berm and you got a continuous living water filter so to me that fits in
the properties of biochar. In other words, add it to the soil, permanent sequestration
of the carbon that’s there, doing a function an ecological function. Here it’s filtering
water. Out the field it can grow crops more effectively and I even think cheaper. That’s
one of things I hope to do more of as a go down the road. So we’ve heard of the terra
preta South America. There’s an American version also so I talked about Thomas Mann rewriting
American history so this was something I wrote up for some of my friends around Thanksgiving
and the first page it talks about cation exchange capacity and I’ll explain some of that but
then the second page is a letter I was sending around. The first Europeans to come to the
US were amazed by these new wild lands and the type of soil in the grasslands in the
middle of the US. There’s a picture in their, all this brown area are these grassland soils
well what they found these grassland soils had in common was that they were very fertile
and so that some of the same folks that did some of the testing on the terra preta decide
hey let’s look at these soils in the US and there called Mollisol. Thats just the soil
scientist name for it so what they’ve learned about that these Mollisoils is that presettlement
fires so prior to colonization they know that presettlement fires produce charcoal okay
and that charcoal was much more abundant in these soils than they previously thought.
Fires were a common practice that Native Americans used to maintain grasslands. If you have a
grassland you’re gonna have more things that eat grass out their. Buffalo, elk . That kind
of thing so they were doing that to maintain grasslands okay when I worked in Kansas for
Kansas Crop Improvement Association which is a group of seed producers. I’d be driving
home at night and I could see on the horizon a line of red and that was a whole town was
out there burning the prairie they were still doing it and the reason why they do that is
it maintains a grassland for grazing and it kill the woody species so that the fire goes
across the prairie and just burns the tops of the grass but any shrub that sitting in
their it burns the wood and it chars down into the ground and with buffalo and everybody
else out there some of that’s getting spread out so Native Americans were doing this on
a big scale I don’t know if you can still do it today but certainly when I was in Kansas
they were still doing it. These scientists came and they studied it and I go okay what
is this? so the biochar accounted for 40 to 50% of the organic carbon of this mollisoil
so of the one that’s the most common in the grasslands and then the quote a friend and
I really like is but essentially the entire contribution of organic matter to the soils
cation exchange capacity could be attributed to the cation exchange capacity of the char
okay so what that’s saying is pretty much all the cation exchange capacity of these
soils comes from biochar so now what’s cation exchange capacity? It’s the ability the soil
to hold positively charged cations, positively charged nutrients so soils in the South you
know a lot of them cation exchange capacity is four. The guy that was at the growers school
who had that really terrible year, the next year his cation exchange capacity from a small
amount of char went to eight. That’s really hard to do. It’s really hard to get cation
exchange capacity to move at all with just compost yet double okay so you can think of
it as like a bank vault right and its nutrients sitting in their. Depending on how big it
is, you can’t stuff any more nutrients in so you can’t hold any more nutrients that
would be non leachable but still root available but as the cation exchange capacity gets bigger
the box gets bigger the vault gets bigger you can hold more fertility. That’s how they
did it that’s how they did in the South American land so you’re building cation exchange capacity
so what this paper went on to say is basically that pretty much all the fertility of these
soils right so the first colonist comes here and it’s this amazing garden of Eden and the
populations of animals are over the charts well the main predator of the animals is gone.
90% of the population of the US crashed just like in South America TRANSCRIPTION IN PROGRESS
what happens was the first Spaniards brought the diseases of domesticated animals and other
diseases that they had built up resistance to but the natives did not they crashed the
population of people who are taking care lander gone and all his fertility sit there and now
we have actual proof that the fertility of the note of breadbasket of the US of the picture
my mind the US breadbasket of the US columns from this charcoal so oh basically the fertility
just like in the terror Prater was the biochar added prior to colonization so that was the
real wealth of this country and the call is happily get the government were many people
are out anymore pretty nice so that the resources that Islam a bonded instable char residues
in soil implications for soil fertility and carbon sequestration much different authors
all will will put this up on the site to Seattle Om is a pretty technical paper and I just
want to extrapolate it down to what I could easily get and use I’m a soil scientist molecular
why can’t do something with her right away than it this on reading the Sunday morning
on so let me take this another step so Exchange capacity again that grower had a four in any
energy year to he was up to an eight he was thrilled to eat as couldn’t believe it okay
so Sandy soils what colored sandy soil which we had a lot of it here as a Exchange capacity
of 3 to 5 okay when you start getting up into real good loamy soils like up in New England
and in some of the some of the soils deposited from the glaciers are nice dark soils you
could get up maybe 1015 NL they did have some of that in the Midwest but they really mind
it down a lot of them aren’t very good even California in olden the big Valley there a
lot of them are much lower than that on but in Amazon soils the found soils that were
that I and so that’s off the charts so what this says and the reason why as a soil scientist
I gets a window is because what this says we can permanently change so fertility the
charcoal they’ve dated it the half-life they think is 1000 years so even if they’re 50%
or home that still thousand years of artillery we can build now how do we make it is probable
fossil is now this this rule has to go back into the field house I can ago are you still
make a lot of char that’s portable or demonstrated here you go to make a lot of chart it’s got
a work in the field well charbroil concentrate works that that you put in the potting soil
when you start your blog and see put in the potting mix through transplant and what you’re
doing areas with little to char and a lot of biology packed onto the chart your transplant
the sexy picture of the poster out there the transplant at the time a transplant but this
is a normal one and this is the chart it might be 25% figure flexible better you put that
the field ~difference but then it flowering of flowers earlier yields earlier and it can
yield 51% that’s that’s pretty much were we gotten to that was four years of replicated
trials Virginia Tech’s you can get there you grow super transplants using charged as part
of your biological mix and you can get a higher yield at first they can than a beach picnic
that dwindles down and you can make a decision one day and you’re picking the disease are
or the market but so there you can do that and one week we look at the nutrients we were
doing that compared to conventional agriculture we were doing at at about 50% less fertilizer
required now are talking now or get the something that can make people some money right away
it’s not easy though because you change your way of thinking it’s a biological tool so
if you use high sulfur lies in on nuclear could you tell the biology of the Charles
still be there in the biology may be had to mixture but you’ve killed your benefit so
your your work away that when organic potting soil you don’t you’ll want a lot high sulfur
lies as little as fertilizers possibly actual and you go to see automated translator is
60 weeks at the time of transplant you want a starter so instead he is the high salt fertilizer
use a low analysis something like a fish emulsion could be put in okay now you got them in the
ground may be got for negation or drip on the trip again low-salt fertilizers low analysis
and you will to carry that plan out now talking a way that we can make agriculture more problem
with so that’s once I got the battles like okay now rolling you know with that amount
that’s all and that’s only in that the that is about 3% so the document which contains
char is in the potting solely 3% by volume and then that when used correctly also at
the time of transplant as a cover crop input down so that’s in as an extra energy boost
for the microbes and with proper practices you can get to a better yield at less cost
so that’s were while charred rubber meets the road in terms of what he can do in agriculture
Tom and so that that’s why this the CEC thing is so important just to to some measure of
what the soul can hold so that got me really going and then like a select while we were
source scouring the planet where we can affine where you find a machine that’s good work
I was negotiating with all these companies and trying to get a free man’s summaries got
this summer got that and it was a lot like my express in the compost business elite a
lot of people talking about it lauding desktop machines note on the page they look really
good very view on the ground in the further I got the less I found and so on I looked
at that one out of University of Georgia and I thought that was good to be great they they
imploded a number of companies were doing with cans by that’s not good enough and and
in my measure of what was good enough is that I had had to get that profitable possible
towards why can’t make chart out using the heat when I was a biochar from somebody else
there’s there’s there’s plenty char out there not always a good quality but why would I
do it well then I met Bob and I heard about them and he had a little box thing is a and
you probably write a happen yet and then and then I found out all the issues me so he was
taken the heat out of his metal box water would be needed it came under a greenhouse
in your unit to dry wood were in the new version of that this is a would kill we can heat water
and runs the standard vectors there’s also pipe in the ground we can keep the floor we
had on the solar application the back of it is song to come into the attic and when that
one is enough songs to fail come all start running heating so were really use the energy
well here and we can take the energy of the greenhouse to so now were were multitasking
arch whore in a work getting it to do multiple functions for us and so that was another piece
I wanted and that that’s where to demonstrate your more more in the ideas we can take it
out to more more people and show on that this can be done on different scales we happen
to be at this scale person I I’ve already about one third the skill we started a little
greenhouse would countdown them got bigger but that’s a reason real promise of biochar
that you can we can do these things and and make it profitable and start to yelp free
task some of the stuff that people were thrown away and one of the things I want to make
make clear is there are there a lot of folks that will say biochar this could cause us
to cut down more trees or waste crop snow white corn ethanol just to the corner biochar
I really think so I say we got a lot of room therefore will ever get to that every storm
there’s lots of waste I know guy up in no Marilyn discovered Pogo every time is a big
ice storm in the DC Baltimore area it’s like million dollars in seven days a minute just
there’s so much trees, downed his job is to cut him take amendment put them on his place
and trip him up and the so what on what I believe in is that we don’t even need to get
into that debate about over the grow trees to chop him down to make chart there’s so
much waste out there so much waste and most landfill on the site landfill was worthy to
dump all the shrubs and trees and brush all those here so I think will be minor landfills
a change in the air so what will you and what I do is that yet we should be taken at Islamorada
when I was in New Jersey that the form that I work with up there who called the chart
formulation with me that the charter concentrate it was a it was Gloucester County and like
the thousand yards chips three years home had a dislike of what it up but there were
so many hoops to go to read and talk to those people and we have a chart unit were still
shopping it’s a biochar unit became the char you I could use because that a lot of lot
of good things to it one is that the shapes and sizes of the material common in can be
for debate you have to make a certain size material and go through some conveyor to develop
some hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars no now we got a unit
that can work with different materials we can use the Bob course was very interested
in all the energy application source okay let’s what’s make that happen here that’s
how we got here and and I just I wanted you to see this because this is called the cascaded
you so there’s different application so with his transplant the amount of char output into
the ground is so tiny it’s almost nonexistent book what when you’re making char and as we
get better at making amendments more profitable you’ll be able to bomb and were working with
Virginia Tech on this policy picture this is your your field you can have raised beds
you know they’re doing permanently raised beds and are you grow cover crops on and he’s
working on a machine that can basically put the chart downright down the road and that’s
what you do with this if you use a tribal concentrate you only put it right were the
plants can be so were making an amendment now were calling a chart resource filtration
bags out there Om so we can apply it right with the plants can be right, planning rope
he’s got a thing or you can you can open it up drop the work on a chart resource which
will be a fully loaded char write down the slot here and then in that slot you can translate
right behind Saddam can get up to more mechanized agriculture and now you’re applying quite
a bit of char you’re currently change in the fertility that will reduce your energy needs
over time you can keep going each time or in a field situation again you go write down
the row you know maybe 2 inch wide area they were the plants can be announce your rotating
that out maybe the next time you go this way it’s the bout now you can permanently build
your fertility of soil but you do it by placing it right with the plants can grow that’s where
the money now that’s where the mayhap that that’s why want to see this the idea of think
of cascading uses think of okay you for the transplant but then I want to build the salt
the same times meet up with some of the soil on and and large-scale agriculture citizen
revealed now out the Midwest with a laser grade old water runs two point let’s rubber
nutrients run off to you char box it right there collecting nutrients put a backup on
the field USDA was working on that in 2000 90 the workshop but if you think of multiple
uses that ever try to your target synergy the HR by itself doesn’t work it’s a chart
with the biology the biology with foods the foods with a cover crop when you multiply
all those pieces together that’s how you get to better yield at less cost so Om as of yet
in Sweden are doing on a big scale the farm in Tennessee does it there was up at the chart
conference or was there was a company the reported John was just the urine and they
were taken to making fertilizer and I said get that down here back when should not be
there that you have joined the back the estimate yet opted about them again you could do that
and what more malice talk about yes so got this char and it sits by itself it doesn’t
do much for you you load it once it’s loaded it all will be things were is a human urine
comes out sterile you could put it into the chart and make that your men visual rock and
pop that most people in Europe. I thought, now why what four letter a goes into the I
is is developing away from her holiday children now either that I or by is that we if we PS
okay I easily would you all that and they are there really is in as the raw material
telephone is but after I oval practices: you are what I as of May yeah. The court also
I is available to all that the type of soil in North America well I reply go that far
if this is a us a straight full-size term for the type of soil of the feeding to see
that yeah okay yeah okay via the blog post the idea the end there so the next time were
thinking about Boucher we need to give thanks to the biochar makers again before us are
a you a great I feel in your four people died in soil FLV the black soil is yeah it’s not
a few inches for the it is really loose soil estate the you are far older them are involved
in your point of your right right right of the resume on our of so certainly like to
okay yet there were other far All no not all not all onto saying when it when they did
the County state capacitors that tell the answer became yes so they were naturally for
~it is an in-line racing and nothing you also that
all carbons are good source to to bring her
chart your chart sure to your or or logo for our company is the is his pinecone on so you
could you could chart Christmas tree but the dryer the tree better normally rid of if the
government barrels of pesticides and herbicides that they need to get rid of a law if you
take those molecules you are not mild oxidant is another not and is actually big companies
that the rendering of the by taking the capsules program hot enough under pressure whatever
it takes but some insane processes they were using American cans out here you can actually
annihilate a lot of those microcell in the chemist Do the chemistry behind the hello
that is how so I I would be too concerned about one a Christmas tree farm you can get
into the organic stuff degree and sooner or later is that it’s all around what I find
a right which is where not use things like painted or construction waste that has painted
or don’t males is the lose lose especially for and no condition so this was a something
about it and look back to a lecture about Christmas trees are I’ve chart about this
history’s the reason if you are not the question one way or is one of the one you will never
zone with you or I is in you it really is is not the same thing I’m wondering about
changes a Arthur try for a driver seeing the we know not everything long my hundred leader
in terms of the above he carved with publicly with all of our RSS no virus I a Rob we talk
about his how we they current as farming you can get this the that a boilers there’s a
lot of situations where we in better this way will will throw away process but my company
when I over is a where will you people that are Friday the nasty goal is Alan Wessel is
not available for is why do you have harvest this question for some so we can think that
are already going on five hour workweek one get farmers to do something shalom the economic
benefit of doing it and they’ll figure out how to do it will be more innovative than
farmers and gardeners so if we can just motivates them that way shoulder to grow more plants
grow bigger plants grow healthier plants and it’s got cost them less money to do it and
although doing so in a way my list is backwards for this audience I should be starting with
number four I should be telling you why you make more money if you use biochar and I believe
it’s true you To make more money you can grow bigger better healthier more drought resistant
plants with more nutrient density in each plant and there’s lots of science behind all
of the amount scientist so you have the advantage of me not telling you all the tiny details
of how that’s can work try to explain it from my point of view but it’s just my idea of
how it works and how it works is we make the stuff we put it in the soil given around the
roots of the plants and it’s amazing what does the levels of energy and thus the we
haven’t begun soon understand that I know there are people here in this room do understand
it intuitively that there’s more going on there than meets the that we can explain it
was science and one of five things that I find it always bigwig symposiums with all
the the egghead scientists looking at the stuff is that they’re always trying to break
it down into these why does it work what is a work in in the process again it down to
the point where okay the chemist will come and tell you while the chemistry there is
carboxyl groups that are holding this and that it is way over my head and then you get
the physicist and he’ll be saying oh well the the hydrophobicity of the sin that is
going on and that’s going to make that work and then you get a soil scientist who comes
up and says hello this is to make your soil law more porous than to do this and that and
all of those things are true and wonderful and I’m glad and I thank God for all those
people who can study that stuff so much more intensely than I can but what I feel my gift
is that I can come and say know what this does a whole bunch of things at once it’s
because it does all of those things that it makes a huge difference and you can do a lot
of scientific experiments get me down into those little details and they can’t see it
they can’t see that it works because it does all of these things at once. For instance
it holds the biology but if it holds the water what is an old biology holds a biology because
it’s got the physical structure but the biology love to move into there’s actually different
sized holes of you looked at the summer microscope that are holding the different size bacteria
and fungi all of which are helping your plants most of which are helping your plants grow
and at the same time it’s holding onto the nutrients that those that that biology needs
to survive likes to eat so it’s providing housing and food for the welfare system for
for biology and it’s wholly out of the water as well big deal on Cape Cod with my sandy
sandy soil after it pours rain two days later under bigger getting my plants are no dry
up and the so the question is why does Sandy soil dry also fell it’s just the waters going
through it it doesn’t hang onto the water there’s not much organic matter their which
is what’s double bond with this excellent response to the point were I did my own experiment
very nonscientific against Mexico but my soil and I put it in a couple of the old plastic
sherbet containers that you could see through and it’s mixed’s 10% March are in one of and
left the other one is a control in a Phil Goldwater the first holes in the bottom the
little water and let them drip Tiller was no water left in and set them on my sun porch
to see what would happen in probably forgot about until about three weeks later and I
went looked at him of course one was just soiled bone dry and the one with the biochar
and you could still see the moisture against the sides of the container him it sounds like
snake oil I swear when I start going on about how many things you can do with this works
in the sandy soil because now it becomes that sponge that’s hanging onto the water and it
also hangs onto the nutrients the same way so you have to use less fertilizer every year
of whatever kind or using hopefully it’s compost and the good natural organic fertilizers you
don’t need to use as much because it’s not getting washed away it’s being held on to
the lets of secondary benefit which doesn’t make me any money directly is the that same
phosphorus and nitrogen is in command of the groundwater which ends up in the pond downstream
from which causes algae bloom and all of that okay so it’s filtering it essentially but
it’s also hanging onto my what am I ideas is to build a boat put them upon the words
got the LG blue filter the water through my through a big boat full of biochar pull a
boat out and dump the biochar in my field because now I’ve got all the nutrients out
of pond with my filter an important impact where I can use another hallway looking evidence
were sorting out the chemical or the

64 Comments

  • Erich Knight

    Then I will Re-Post;
    The Sky is the limit when considering Carbon, with a few hundred Billion tons to use in the soil. Then after the atmospheric draw-down, a couple more hundred Billion tons will release from the oceans. We need it all to reset & rejuvenate the Biosphere to the level of Net Primary Production, (NPP) last seen during the rein of the Mega-Fauna which ended 12,800 years ago. Imagine beavers the size of bears or wild pigs larger than modern-day rhinoceroses, or even sloths as large as elephants. Glyptodon, an Armadillo, the size of a VW Beetle and weighed up to 2 tons. Loads of bioturbation, Phosphorous, (P), & Sodium,(Na) dissemination, A profundity of the biosphere unmatched by any of our remaining "Virgin" old growth forest.
    I find it hard to even imagine walking through such a biosphereic ecology more akin to Avatar's Pandora,

    If we replicate the Ecologic Services of the extinct megafauna, since 7 billion of us makes us the new Megafauna,
    then we could build back Soil Carbon with massive increases of Net Primary Production. An ecocgy not seen for 12,800 years.
    An Ecology not limited by Phosphorous, Sodium & lost Soil-C.
     
    For a complete review of the current science & industry applications of Biochar please see my 2013 Umass Biochar presentation. How thermal conversion technologies can integrate and optimize the recycling of valuable nutrients while providing energy and building soil carbon, I believe it brings together both sides of climate beliefs.
    A reconciling of both Gods' and mans' controlling hands.

    Agricultural Geo – Engineering; Past, Present & Future
    Across scientific disciplines carbons are finding new utility to solve our most vexing problems
    http://www.trunity.net/files/236901_237000/236919/kinght2013-1.pdf

    Up Coming SSSA Presentation:
    Agricultural Geo – Engineering; Past, Present & Future
    https://scisoc.confex.com/scisoc/2014SES/webprogram/Paper84324.html

  • SquareCo

    If I just file the char into dust and use it as fertillizer, does it then work? (can it be normal charcoal?)
    And how much do I need to add for….. 1Kg of ground?

  • ccfm2000

    Indonesia has 127 active volcanoes, is that why their soil is very fertile. Is that the same coals effect you talking about? Their soil is clay with no sand almost at all, look like pottery clay. It won't absorb water fast enough, causing floods.
    As I said before, I am helping unfortunate people making something out of waste, including farming as much I could.

  • MsPlastina1

    I heard about mesquite charcoal from Mexico ,it says doesn't have additives .do any of you know whether it can be used in gardening

  • Ross Echols

    What is the difference in making BioChar & the Distillation of wood for methanol…..????? When you use destructive distillation of wood, you make a fine charcoal. Can that be used as Biochar….?????

  • GetMeThere1

    Good idea: pee into plastic jugs partially filled with biochar, then when full dump pee + biochar into your garden area (or add it to finished compost).

  • Natural Ponds Lakes & Streams by Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts

    Your boat of biochar will give you a nice black water pond, but it will be clean!

  • M G

    Two comments around 40:00. First, creating and using char in this way is doing a great deal to sequester CO2. Though you may be introducing some by creating the heat to create the char, the char you've created is 100% carbon sequestered and in a stable form that (unless burned in the presence of oxygen) will NOT turn into CO2, unlike composting and other methods of organic breakdown. Also, not all waste is truly waste. That is to say garbage isn't useless. Eventually our landfills will be the goldmine of some future economy because they'll be the place to find large hordes of useful materials long since mined to nothing from nature.

  • Michael Schmidt Nissen

    I actually tested wether pigs will eat charcoal as Bob Wells says, and they do! They were hesitant about it, bordering to suspicious, but they crunched up every tiny bit I gave them 🙂

  • Laurie O'Meara

    Hi- great video. If all Cape farmers were using biochar, do you think it would affect the water table over time, make us too heavy in the soil? With sea level rising by 2020 (NASA), would Cape farms be mud puddles? I currently don't add anything to my small yard / containers (Yarmouth), but biochar is very interesting, even on very small scale. Thanks for video

  • Paul Ngarua

    thank you for this information.
    i live in kenya on a small farm. i am passionate about bringing this knowledge to my community in nyeri let me know if we can corroborate 
    Paul

  • Neil Blanchard

    Native grasslands with roaming large herds of herbivores – i.e. bison – this acts as a massive carbon sink into the soil. Search for TEDx Dubbo soil carbon Tony Lovell for an amazing discussion of this.

  • Tony Willcocks

    Hi Bob. Thanks for taking the time to make the video.Another big plus for using bio-char is its effect on lawns that dogs use as a toilet. My border collie pees in the same place every single time he goes out. An increasing circle has been developing over time.
    Looked at your videos and thought this might help.Burnt grass area was up to a 6 ft radius before addition of bio-char After adding char and 3 weeks later now 2 ft radius. I know its early days but its something that I believe is really promising. Wish I had taken photos of before, but in my haste,didn't. Worth looking into.

  • non producible recordings

    Any thoughts on the way Sepp Holzer uses wood directly in the earth compared to going thorough a biochar process first? Maybe what is the best way depends on the climate on the spot? Rain and temperature….?

  • Thaumatourgos

    As I undeestand it, horse manure is high in salt content and has to be well aged in order for the salt to leech out. What would happen if I mixed raw horse manure with charcoal at 50/50? Would this bind the salts as well as inoculate the charcoal with the microbes? How long would it have to age then?

  • Crazy Monkey

    I'm not into agriculture myself, but I honestly think this is the most interesting thing I've watched ever! I find this totally fascinating and captivating. Extremely well done, properly explained and educational. Thank you for sharing!

  • Frank Johnson

    This is the kind of stuff that should be getting taught in grade schools worldwide. The next question to enter your mind is WHY IS IT NOT TAUGHT.

    All peoples world wide need to start asking WHY.

  • Tim Sanders

    I am surprised that after 3 years, you still have not corrected (or maybe, even checked) your written on-screen narrative. It is quite entertaining if the verbiage wasn't so distracting. BTW, who is Phil Goldwater? LOL!

  • Gustav

    Claiming that the natives created the best soils in the world is hogwash, as the guy from the audience says at last, those soils toke way longer to make then the 50.000 years humans has been around.

  • RWM0000

    I see a lot of questionable content on You Tube but these folks are making this into something better. Really relevant info nicely delivered that a person will be able to use to help themselves. Kudos

  • Dennis Gorman

    thank you so much for this info, done with part one subscribed and liked, I am American but moved to Philippines, I plan soon to make coco husk peat  compost, this will leave me with lots of fiber once the peat is extracted, and I am trying to see if I can make bio char from the fibers, I may do this on a small commercial scale,, if I can make the fibers into char

  • Hal Steward

    I sure hope I don't watch 5 hrs of YouTube videos and Not get the ratios of charcoal to compost, Biochar to soil, tolled in, or topped off ?? Just even a suggested ratio.

  • Cyn F

    I believe the name of the author of 1491 is Charles C Mann, not Thomas Mann. Great videos btw, I am loving it and trying to figure out how I can do this myself. I wish more people knew about this. Spread the word people!

  • D.O.F Integrated Farmz

    Can liquid IMO made from IMO2 works or replace IMO4? I am asking cos it's hard to get OHN ingredients where I am (Nigeria)

  • Ramesh Yadav

    My understanding is that biochar is more of a medium, carrier or storage of nutrients that having its providing its own nutrients to the plants. I'm i right or am i missing anything?

  • Surendra Nerurkar

    You filter the onlooker from the curious types by making the first part and then give this second part as gift of life, to those who are curios, for being curious. THAT'S A Nobel WINNER STUFF.

  • spiridione vassallo

    Thank you for the great info. I just wish to ask you a question. If I use a small diesel burner like they use on small boilers, would it effect the product due to burning fuel? I see many here use wood to heat up. Where I live supply of wood is limited, so
    I can heat up using fuel such as diesel or cooking oil. would appreciate suggestion in drawings as I will be building my experiment soon.

  • Sean Zannoni

    Guys, I'm flabbergasted by all the good factual information, watching the whole lot for sure! Keep it up, it's stunning!

  • Ronald Hillberg

    Yes, a lot of burning still goes on in the midwest. I kind of came to the same conclusion myself about the soil. We were always told that the prairie held the soil and the grass composted down to create more black soil, but looking at soils around the world I would see that composted soil isn't black. Fire and char was the only thing that came to mind. We used to plow under green chop fo amend the soil, but the bacteria compost it to nothing so fast you don't add much. Now you try to leave things on top for mulch and only chop it up enough to plant and have the soil warm up. The fired clay in the Terra Preta is also very porous and very erosion resistant. My grandparents used to heat with corn cobs and would spread the ash/char on their garden. It grew great!

  • TheBrewer3535

    I'm glad I found this series. I make my own organic fertilizer with wood ash/char, blood meal, bone meal and my compost.
    I have been adding biochar to my soil for 15 years without realizing it.😁

  • JackSpeed 439

    Yes just like an American, funny euphemisms. The European people arrived and the local population “crashed, 90% of them.” They didn’t crash ! A crash is an accident usually involving vehicles. Nope the locals were just straight up killed by the Europeans, either via lead poisoning or starvation due to displacement or food source destruction or disease.

    Just like the Pocahontas story is a straight up fabrication. As well as thanks giving, no turkeys were present at all and the Indians didn’t give the Europeans anything….

    Yeah so just call it what it is, this is a biochar lecture not a HR bullshit presentation.

  • JackSpeed 439

    49:00 you say that any green timber has a lot of chemicals in it…. MOSTLY arsenic. Well that’s a lie. No arsenic at all in treated wood since 2009 or before, it’s copper now. So facts are a bit loose in this. Next he’ll say that farmed chickens are full of growth hormones….. nope not since the 60’s.

  • Ok

    I wonder if it would be feasible to use char to accelerate the growth of trees and sequester more carbon faster, including the amount used to create the char. Because trees are great at sequestering carbon but everyone says that they take too long to grow.

  • Travis B

    Every one should listen to America before by Graham handchandcock he goes in depth about ancient civilizations and talks briefly about terra pretta they made

  • David Holgate

    You're the first person that has mentioned Charles C Mann's "1491" in a long time! Incredible book, but I either missed or have forgotten the biochhar part, so thanks for mentioning it! Great video, thanks so much.

  • David Holgate

    FYI, Your consultant erroneously cites Thomas Mann as author of "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus". It's Charles C Mann. Great videos, keep'em coming!

  • C.R. Hall

    I'm just going to start throwing this out there… Years ago, when my son was a young boy, we loved camping and discussed ideas of all things survival. I spoke about an unknown idea I had of a human waste pit and on each defecation adding a sprinkle of fire ash to deodorise, which would also balance acidic urine. I wondered if, once the small pit is full, straw or hey may be optionally mixed in, top the pit with turf for a time to partially compost the matter, then dig up and shape into blocks which are air dried and used for fire blocks as fuel, and very possibly make great fertiliser for agriculture also! I've always wondered why society doesn't seem to know what to do with it's excrement, other than throw wash it into the water ways??!

  • Immortal SoFar

    Scientists only care about how it works, which is fine. It's engineers who deal with how to use it. Different but complimentary skills which feed back on themselves.

  • PaintFiicker

    When I lived in Mexico. The people in Zapopan made their biochar in an old fashioned way. I wish I had watched and learned more.
    That area was recent farmland transformed into bedroom communities for Guadalajara. They were probably using techniques from centuries of experience.

  • Kevin Knight Photography

    Intuition means more to me than all the professors i saw at UGA. My grandfather was a farmer with a 3rd grade education but knew more from doing than any scientist will know for hundreds of years to come.

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