Kay Baxter identifies biochar as an important component of her soil development and gardening strategy. It would be great to hear other folks ideas and experiences in NZ.
“….then we added 5kgs of CHARGED biochar per sq m and that changed everything.”
I was critical of LandCare Research in a recent (17Dec) Biochar@ABE FB post based on this video…
I posted a comment: “Could someone from LCR or Lincoln advise if biochar was considered as a tool worthy of study in these leaky soils.” and got the following reply: “we use biochar in a variety of different manners, one of which you can read about here: http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/innovation-stories/methane-eating-bacteria-give-farmers-a-filter-for-the-future “
Its great to see biochar as part of this research (with potentially major opportunities for biochar to help in dairy effluent management issues). But this does not really address my Q about biochar in leaky soil research.
Peter Cundall is gardening legend in Australia. He talks about biochar kindly in the article linked below. Where are all the NZ gardening legends on this subject?
Interest in methane is bubbling up all over the pace right now…
And MPI have just released an RFP for more animal methane studies. NZ$350K allocation as part of the $65M committed by NZ…
Introduction and Background
“The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (Alliance) was launched in December 2009 and it now has over 40 member countries. The New Zealand Government has allocated a total of $65 million budget to support New Zealand’s participation in the Alliance, particularly in its Livestock Research Group which New Zealand co-chairs.
Research investments for the Government’s Alliance budget are identified through a number of channels including, for example, the Livestock Research Group and other Alliance Research Groups, the New Zealand Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research (GPLER), and bilateral relationships. This RFP seeks to procure a new project that will contribute significantly to New Zealand’s domestic research programme as well as to the wider efforts of the Alliance’s Livestock Research Group.
New Zealand leads the world in the development of low methane emitting sheep. New Zealand researchers were the first to confirm that differences in methane emissions between sheep fed the same diet are consistent and that they have a genetic basis. Contrasting high and low emitting selection lines are now being maintained and the search is underway to develop genomic markers that will allow the cheap and rapid identification of low and high emitting phenotypes. This latter step is critical for the commercial breeding and adoption of lower emitting animals.
Although considerable progress has been made with sheep, progress with cattle has been slower. A major reason for this has been the unavailability of sufficient measurement capacity. Developing the capacity to directly measure methane emissions from the large numbers of animals needed in genetics work is prohibitively expensive. Using funding from rounds 2 and 3 of the GPLER a rapid system for simultaneously measuring intake and methane has been successfully developed and tested for its practicality and ability to provide realistic estimates of daily methane emissions and emissions per unit of feed. A further stage in its testing, which forms the concept behind this RFP, is to ascertain whether the system can detect differences in methane emissions from animals that have been selected for low feed intake, a trait that has been linked to lower emissions.”
With so much current interest around the world on biochar / carbon animal feed applications and the existing research pointing to animal methane reduction from biochar feed supplements, It irks me that there is no govt interest or support in NZ.
Here is a new report on feeding AC to goats… I don’t think goat productivity or methane were measured but it points at least to a safe pathway for biochar application to soil and carbon sequestration.
And here is a Q I’d like answered: the fecal discharge I see from typical dairy herds in NZ looks like industrial scale diarrhoea. Is this the default due to cow genetics is this industry standard, accepted as part of intensive gazing systems? Maybe I need to ask a vet.
Conference papers are now available – click the heading below…
“From August 22-25, 2016, over 300 biochar producers, researchers, users, and enthusiasts met at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon for the US Biochar Initiative 2016 Symposium: The Synergy of Science and Industry.”
This was 5th December (aligned with past King of Thailand’s birthday) so we missed celebrating it here at ABE… & in NZ… and the world generally! After watching the video below, I can see that the worlds disconnection with soil is a serious problem. I hope you can find some time to at least watch part of this.
I had hopes for promoting 5th November as ‘biochar pyramid burn’ day – teaching folks how to manage a fire to optimise for biochar production. You can still burn the ‘guy’ (maybe dressed in a Monsanto T-shirt). Maybe next year for both dates…
a b s t r a c t
“Biochar, like most other adsorbents, is a carbonaceous material, which is formed from the combustion of plant materials, in low-zero oxygen conditions and results in a material, which has the capacity to sorb chemicals onto its surfaces. Currently, research is being carried out to investigate the relevance of biochar in improving the soil ecosystem, digestate quality and most recently the anaerobic digestion process. Anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic substrates provides both a sustainable source of energy and a digestate with the potential to enhance plant growth and soil health. In order to ensure that these benefits are realised, the anaerobic digestion system must be optimized for process stability and high nutrient retention capacity in the digestate produced. Substrate-induced inhibition is a major issue, which can disrupt the stable functioning of the AD system reducing microbial breakdown of the organic waste and formation of methane, which in turn reduces energy output. Likewise, the spreading of digestate on land can often result in nutrient loss, surface runoff and leaching. This review will examine substrate inhibition and their impact on anaerobic digestion, nutrient leaching and their environmental implications, the properties and functionality of biochar material in counteracting these challenges.”
“The application of biochar has the potential to improve AD process by counteracting SII, improve digestate quality through nutrient retention, contributing to the buffering capacity of the system and create a surface area for the colonization of microbial cell. Comparatively, these functions can be achieved by another adsorbent like activated carbon with higher efficiency. However, the production of biochar is cost effective hence AD operators can afford to use the material without any need for recovery and this will further encourage the spreading of biochar and digestate on land. Biochar was not primarily designed for AD, hence future research in the interaction between biochar and AD microbes, buffering capacity of biochar during AD and sorption effect of biochar material on the AD using a continuous-fed digestion process should be investigated.”
Kathleen is mining a rich vein of biochar innovation in this new Biochar Journal article… an update on previous posts on 55 uses…
by Kathleen Draper
“Since the “55 Uses of Biochar” was presented nearly four years ago, the Ithaka Institute continues to outline and refine this expanded concept of biochar uses. The Biochar Displacement Strategy now articulates a vision for maximizing biochar use by displacing non-renewable materials. Exciting new non-agricultural biochar research from around the world paves the biochar way towards the global bio economy.”
Understanding the Potential of Biochar beyond Soil
Filtration to Fertilizer
Microbial Fuel Cells
SkillCult talking about a system of permanent soil improvement using biochar in a catch pit. Layers of soil improving materials layered with charcoal and dirt.