Some positive feedback here for setting up field trials… any suggestions?
Kay from Koanga Institute demonstrates how they are incorporating biochar into a BSF system.
I think this system may have come from Dr Paul Olivier in Vietnam. http://epwt.vn/en/home/
I’ve posted before on Royal Society discussion on biochar (try a search on ‘royal society’). I missed this important report [linked here] when it was released last year. A search on ‘biochar’ in the report pulls some results. Here are some cuts and comments…
Page 140: “Figure 5.32 Possible technical and management options, and their stage of development, to reduce GHG emissions in the agriculture sector by either increasing efficiency /productivity or reducing emissions per animal”
Biochar gets listed but when you look at the table, biochar could have been discussed in 6 of the 7 table items.
Page 146: Box 5.4: Changes in soil carbon under grazed pastures
“…There is also interest in biochar to increase carbon stocks. Biochar is organic matter carbonised at high temperatures under controlled conditions that restrict oxygen from the process. There is good evidence that biochar represents a very stable form of carbon, so it could be applied to soils to store more carbon. Specific biochars could also possibly help reduce N2 O emissions, although the specific mechanisms are not yet clear. Other potential benefits for improving soil functions and reducing emissions from pastures are also being evaluated. However, the main challenge at present to any widespread use of biochar in a pastoral system remains its cost and the large area that would need to be covered, which makes this strategy not economically feasible to New Zealand farmers without a very high carbon price.
Given the relatively high existing soil carbon stock in New Zealand’s pastures and the scientific and technical difficulties in monitoring and verifying long-term systematic changes in soil carbon stocks, relying on increasing soil carbon would not appear to be a viable mitigation route for New Zealand in the near term. However, subject to substantial additional research and the development of cost effective farm-scale monitoring and reporting tools, it might become a more tractable avenue in future.”
I’ve highlighted two important sentences. Comments: The authors don’t seem to have considered continuous application scenarios. Examples: biochar as an animal feed supplement; biochar as a nutrient carrier in fertilser applications; biochar produced for ‘free’ and over time by the farmer from treefall or crop residues. I’m hoping pressure will grow for more research now, due to growing climate change pressures, water quality and a change of govt. thinking. Your support and efforts could help with this.
Cam Smith has been working with biochar for a number of years on his permaculture farm near Waiuku. His latest avocado planting project is an endorsement of his confidence in biochar as an important component of his future commercial plans. He’s posted on this at the ABE FB page but as it is NZ biochar news, it should also feature here. I’m hoping the link below takes you directly to his recent FB post…
Cam hosted a biochar workshop back in 2015 :
and we hope to run a biochar training workshop at his farm in May next year…
The Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference 2017 took place at Murwillumbah Civic Centre and Showgrounds, NSW, Australia from 10th to 12th of August. Information about the program and presenters is available from the conference website.
My overall impression of the event was very positive. A lot of very exciting information was presented in a crammed schedule. A bit too much to take in one bite so I’m looking forward to reviewing the presentation feeds when they are made available online. There were a few glitches with live broadcasting so there will be some disappointed folk who signed up for this. They will hopefully get access to the recordings soon. I don’t have the final list of attendees but I’m guessing 15-20 of the ~150 registered attendees were from NZ.
The 3rd day was located at the showgrounds where production technologies were demonstrated and application workshops were conducted.
I’ve linked some video footage below, on the 3rd day…
I hope to write some more soon about biochar industry development pathways in NZ. If you have thoughts on this subject, please get in touch.
Subject: Welcome to ANZBC17
Thanks Don, for all your hard work… great program line-lineup.
On Sat, May 20, 2017 at 3:37 PM, Trevor Richards <trevor at soilcarbon.org.nz> wrote:
Dear ABE group,
Please find below an e-letter I hope you will read and share. A few of you may have been sent this already from another list… sorry for this.
Dennis and I have been discussing the need/interest for biochar workshops in NZ. We agree that more needs to be done to raise the awareness on biochar in NZ but I’m wondering if we can gather the support we would need for a biochar speaker/workshop tour of NZ. Some ideas:
- invite overseas production &/or applications specialist
- collaborate with local groups around NZ for each venue
- seek funding from …
There would be much to consider and organise for such a tour, so some sort of support group may need to gather around the idea to take it forward. We would welcome any comments or expressions of support for this.
Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference 2017
Biochar (charcoal made for use in soil) increases the productivity and resilience of many soils and contributes to climate change mitigation, as shown by research here in NZ and around the world.
It has also been shown to improve soil moisture and nutrient holding capacity, improve animal health and reduce animal emissions, reduce the uptake of soil contaminants in our food such as heavy metals and other chemicals, and has a range of cascading applications from production to soil application such as nutrient capture and water quality enhancement.
We are focused on increasing the knowledge base and expanding the biochar industry to highlight biochar as a major contributor to fight the many issues we face in our world today.
The ANZBC17 conference is being held near the Gold Coast in Australia on 10 – 12th August to provide opportunities for researchers, industry players and interested parties to connect and advance the use of biochar.
Please consider attending this conference or becoming a sponsor (we are trying to help NZ speakers with conference travel costs).
Further information is available on the conference website: https://anzbc.org.au/
Your interest and support is appreciated.
Dennis Enright, former co-chair of Soil & Health
Trevor Richards, co-founder of AllBlackEarth
(ANZBC17 Organising Committee – NZ branch)
This new report is a bit of a disappointment if you are looking for any focus on biochar or soil carbon but they did at least try to include something… (but only in the supporting technical report!)
Pg.65: “Finally, biochar could be an effective means of reducing several GHGs. Biochar is a highly porous charcoal that can be created from harvesting waste from plantation forests. There is good evidence that it is a very stable form of carbon, so it could be applied to soils to store more carbon. Specific biochars might also help reduce N 2 O emissions, although the exact mechanisms are not yet clear. However, the main challenge at present to any widespread use of biochar in a pastoral system remains its cost and the large area that would need to be covered (Pollock 2015).”
IMO: a failure here to recognize potential of biomass for CHAB. Crop /forestry residues and coppice could replace coal… Fonterra being the low hanging fruit. Biochar is a co-product, valued accordingly.
Pg.88: “Soil farming and biochar abatement potential and costs. Some authors focus on the difficulties to measure, monitor and verify savings from these options while others suggest that there is significant scope for rollout (Sims et al. 2016). Further research in the New Zealand context of the costs and scope for roll out is required before this can be included in a robust assessment of abatement potential. This research could focus on the need for better quantification on the effects of biochar on soil productivity and nitrogen leaching, along with the extent to which emissions reductions could be permanent.”
I like the references to “further research” when funding in NZ stopped years ago…
“This report has been compiled by Vivid Economics under contract with GLOBE-NZ, a cross-party group of 35 members, drawn from all parties within the 51st New Zealand Parliament. The report’s authors were Alex Kazaglis, John Ward, Stuart Evans, Paul Sammon and Luke Kemp. The project, funded for GLOBE-NZ by a group of donors within New Zealand, covered the period 1 September 2016 to 28 February 2017. The donors, in alphabetical order, were British High Commission, Mercury Energy, Mills Foundation, Morgan Foundation, Sam Morgan, Rob Morrison, NZ European Union Centres Network, Tindall Foundation, US Embassy, Vector NZ Ltd, Victoria Ransom, Warehouse Group and Z Energy.“