I am linking in this article by Hans-Peter Schmidt on his ithaka website. Hans-Peter is a leader on biochar in Europe and he writes well on a range of biochar application subjects. I plan to link into more of his articles where they may overlap with biochar applications in NZ agriculture.
This article is not about biochar production but using a range of methods to ‘activate’ or ‘charge’ the biochar prior to soil application. Designer biochars.
“Biochar is not a fertilizer, but rather a nutrient carrier and a habitat for microorganisms. First of all, biochar needs to be charged to become biologically active in order to efficiently utilize its soil-enhancing properties. There are numerous methods of activating and producing substrates similar to terra preta aside from mixing biochar with compost. …”
The link below is to a discussion on the biochar-yahoo group regarding the concept of NPK-C (hopefully the link will work for non-members). It would be an interesting concept but would the big fertiliser companies in NZ entertain this? Biochar will probably always work better in an organic soil management system but maybe NPK-C could be an additional pathway to more sustainable agriculture.
When I look back at posts on the temporary BIG-NZ G+ site, there are common threads around pastoral farming, water quality, nutrient management. I believe biochar should have a stronger profile related to these issues in NZ. There is strong science around biochar’s positive influence on nutrient management. This has still to be translated to broad acre experiments in the NZ agricultural environment.
The following article is one of many I’ve seen that have biochar research opportunities blazing at me. Facilitating for more field based research could be one of our roles in the future. I look forward to seeing your comments on this.
The following are extracts from an article posted by Thayer Tomlinson (to the link below).
Amending Healthy Soil
…”Until recently, it was believed that biochar’s beneficial soil impacts were seen primarily in soils with significant constraints, but two recent publications examine its impact on more fertile Midwestern agricultural soils, showing that biochar can benefit even healthy, fertile soils.”
“An interesting study came out in 2010 that examines the impact of biochar not in terms of nutrient addition but of stimulating plant growth. The paper “Biochar impact on development and productivity of pepper and tomato grown in fertigated soilless media” by Graber et al found that when biochar-treated pots were compared against controls, plant development was enhanced. The impacts of biochar on plant development were not due to direct or indirect effects on plant nutrition as both the biochar-treated pots and the control had the same leaf nutrient content (the biochar was a nutrient-poor biochar to ensure the same nutrient content). The research team found two alternatives to explain the improved plant performance under biochar treatment; first, that the biochar “stimulated shifts in microbial populations towards beneficial plant growth promoting rhizobacteria or fungi, due to either chemical or physical attributes of the biochar” and/or that the “low doses of biochar chemicals, many of which are phytotoxic or biocidal at high concentrations, stimulated plant growth at low doses (hormesis).”
From putting it in the garden to help the vegetables grow, through using it to purify water, to burning it as a clean fuel for the BBQ, charcoal has many familiar uses. Perhaps less familiar is biochar, an alternative term … Continue reading
I listened to the RNZ rural news podcast linked below back in July 2012 which includes a review of a water quality related project around Lake Rotorua. 2:30min in is a discussion on the “P Project”. Their project does seem to have some links to keyline plowing.
RNZ rural news – P-project
No reference to biochar in following 2010 report (but hardly surprising)…
Welcome to the my first post to AllBlackEarth.
The concept of a NZ biochar interest group has been under discussion between biochar enthusiasts for a number of years. A call to arms was circulated on 10Mar 2012 to a circulation list of ~130 potentially interested folk. Our plan was to gather a voluntary ‘interim management team’ to undertake the work leading to a (this) NZ interest group. We clearly needed a bit of biochar in our diet as project development has been slow. But here we are, with a brand new website. Where this will lead remains to be seen and will be dependent on your encouragement and participation.
Our initial group (11 of us) congealed around a google+ group about one year ago. Since then, I’ve been posting news reports to that site that I think were relevant for biochar in a NZ context. My plan is to migrate some of these old posts to this new site to kick things off. So some of it may be a bit dated but fell free to leap in with your comments.
Our current structure is still very lose. We have not set protocols for the blog or discussion groups or sorted out moderation responsibilities. Bare with us.