ANZBC17 Conference Proceedings – free PDF

Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference 2017: Conference Proceedings


“The Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference (ANZBC), held in Murwillumbah NSW,
Australia in August 2017, saw the gathering of scientists, biochar producers, equipment
manufacturers, farmers, enthusiasts and other potential biochar end-users. Presenters
covered a wide range of topics ranging from reviews of recent science to advances in
manufacturing technologies to novel end uses for biochar. The conference provided all in
attendance with an up-to-date overview of the state of manufacture, use and potential uses
of biochar as well as the opportunity for both presenters and attendees to exchange ideas
and develop collaborative networks.
These proceedings are a compilation of papers submitted to ANZBC and summaries of
presentations given. The proceedings are divided into three sections, namely refereed
scientific contributions, non-refereed written summaries of oral presentations and non-
refereed powerpoint summaries of oral presentations. The non-refereed summaries reflect
the opinions of the authors at the time of writing, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion
of all in attendance at the conference. The papers and summaries in this proceedings
benchmark the current state of play of the Australia New Zealand biochar industry in 2017
from the perspective of scientists, manufacturers, marketers and end users.”
John Harvey
Managing Director
AgriFutures Australia


A strong new review paper on forest biochar (with NZ links)

NZ links in this important new review. Maybe this meshes nicely with previous post on potential biochar business models in NZ. You can read a review here at the Biochar Discussion Group.

  • Yongfu Li
  • Shuaidong Hu
  • Junhui Chen
  • Karin Müller
  • Yongchun Li
  • Weijun Fu
  • Ziwen Lin
  • Hailong Wang
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Silviculture Zhejiang A & F University Hangzhou China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Carbon Cycling in Forest Ecosystems and Carbon Sequestration of Zhejiang Province Zhejiang A & F University Hangzhou China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Soil Contamination Bioremediation of Zhejiang Province Zhejiang A & F University Hangzhou China
  4. 4.The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited Ruakura Research Centre Hamilton New Zealand
  5. 5.Guangdong Dazhong Agriculture Science Co. Ltd.Dongguan China
  6. 6.Biochar Engineering Technology Research Center of Guangdong Province School of Environment and Chemical Engineering, Foshan University Foshan China



Forests play a critical role in terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycling and the mitigation of global climate change. Intensive forest management and global climate change have had negative impacts on the quality of forest soils via soil acidification, reduction of soil organic carbon content, deterioration of soil biological properties, and reduction of soil biodiversity. The role of biochar in improving soil properties and the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been extensively documented in agricultural soils, while the effect of biochar application on forest soils remains poorly understood. Here, we review and summarize the available literature on the effects of biochar on soil properties and GHG emissions in forest soils.

Materials and methods

This review focuses on (1) the effect of biochar application on soil physical, chemical, and microbial properties in forest ecosystems; (2) the effect of biochar application on soil GHG emissions in forest ecosystems; and (3) knowledge gaps concerning the effect of biochar application on biogeochemical and ecological processes in forest soils.

Results and discussion

Biochar application to forests generally increases soil porosity, soil moisture retention, and aggregate stability while reducing soil bulk density. In addition, it typically enhances soil chemical properties including pH, organic carbon stock, cation exchange capacity, and the concentration of available phosphorous and potassium. Further, biochar application alters microbial community structure in forest soils, while the increase of soil microbial biomass is only a short-term effect of biochar application. Biochar effects on GHG emissions have been shown to be variable as reflected in significantly decreasing soil N2O emissions, increasing soil CH4 uptake, and complex (negative, positive, or negligible) changes of soil CO2 emissions. Moreover, all of the aforementioned effects are biochar-, soil-, and plant-specific.


The application of biochars to forest soils generally results in the improvement of soil physical, chemical, and microbial properties while also mitigating soil GHG emissions. Therefore, we propose that the application of biochar in forest soils has considerable advantages, and this is especially true for plantation soils with low fertility.

NZ biochar business models

Converting Shelterbelt Biomass to Biochar

A Feasibility Analysis for North Dakota Forest Service
By Kelpie Wilson
Wilson Biochar Associates

This PDF report linked above by Wilson Biochar Associates points to future business opportunities for biochar production in NZ. A few business models come to mind:

  • Perennial crop pruning and shelter belt management
  • Forest slash and thinning management
  • Wilding pine management

There is little capital required for the biochar entrepreneur and the economics look promising. What is lacking is a developed market which will hopefully come soon with more publicity and education. Biochar enthusiasts can help by getting this report in front of potential clients, be they vineyards, orchards, forest managers or wilding management groups.

If you have some time and are not familiar with biochar production from fire management such as TFOD (top feed open draft) systems (kontiki, trough, pit), then the following video from WBA should be of interest.

Royal Society report mentions biochar

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’s avocado plan

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…

ANZBC17 conference report

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.

Kontiki demo – link to better quality image











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.


ANZBC17 latest newsletter

Subject: Welcome to ANZBC17

ANZBC17 is a 3 Day Networking Event. Showcasing pyrolysis and gasification technology. Celebrating biochar science and commercial applications.

Welcome to ANZBC17!!

Dear Delegates,

Thank you so much for registering, exhibiting, sponsoring or just presenting at ANZBC17!! With just a month to go now before we all meet up to listen, share and network with each other to achieve great outcomes, just a quick note on some of the finer details for the conference so you can prepare yourself efficiently. We expect anywhere in the vicinity of 100-150 people to attend ANZBC17 and have now opened up the gates on Day 3 from 2-5pm to the public to come in and view biochar technology, visit our trade expo and talk with industry professionals about how to make biochar & wood vinegar or where to buy it from. The number of public we expect will be known closer to the event or on the actual day. We aim to do some radio media over the next month and please spread the word amongst friends and colleagues so we can make the most of this opportunity. You can familiarize yourself with the programme, presenters, trade expo, sponsors, accommodation and meals best at


ANZBC17 is all about bridging the gap between the research that has been done to date and commercialisation of technology and products. A networking event or industry conference such as ANZBC17 brings together you, the industry professionals, biochar producers, foresters, growers, farmers, students and interested citizens so that we can form a community that collaborates on real projects that achieve financial, environmental and social outcomes.

In the past we have had some wonderful outcomes as a result of people meeting at our conferences and we envisage that ANZBC17 will be no different. With the announcement of some very exciting developments such as Johannes Lehmann’s emergent view on Soil Organic Matter, the long term benefits and carbon accumulation of biochar discovered recently by Lukas van Zwieten and Terry Rose et al to the recent Aust. Govt. funding into Co-operative Research Centres for High Performing Soils and the introduction of a whole new raft of dung beetle species right across Australia, many of my colleagues and I feel that the industry is on the precipice of something significant.

As part of a working group that has been meeting regularly since October last year we aim to establish ANZBC17 as the original and ongoing ANZ Biochar Conference on either an annual or biennial basis moving around to each state of Australia and New Zealand if the majority are amenable to what we are doing. We would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to become a member and or part of the committee of an ANZ Biochar Not For Profit Organisation at ANZBC17 (more details to come) that coordinates a regular industry conference, a monthly newsletter, regular webinar series and attracts funding through grants, either private, philanthropic and or government. This is all under the umbrella and support of the International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

I look forward to catching up with you all at ANZBC17 and please take the time to familairise with some details following or feel free to contact me directly.


Don Coyne (on behalf of the ANZBC17 Working Group)
ANZBC17 Event Coordinator

Registration Times

Registrations will take place in the foyer of Murwillumbah Civic Centre on the evening before Wednesday August 9 from 5-9pm and as of 8am on the morning of Thursday August 10. If you’re running late there will be someone there to accommodate you.
You’ll receive a lanyard with your name and company name on it. If you have not included your company name at online registration please email us.


There is a multi level carpark on the left as you come into the Murwillumbah Civic Centre. There is free all day parking on the top level however parking on all other levels requires you to purchase at $4 a day parking ticket from the Tweed Shire Council’s front desk which is on the right of the Civic Centre. We suggest you do this the day before if you can. Disabled access is available from the carpark into the Civic Centre and time limited disabled parking is available to drop off and pick up at the front of the Civic Centre.

Venue & Meals

Day 1 & 2 will be held at Murwillumbah Civic Centre Auditorium and Canvas & Kettle Room. The programme will kick off at 9am and go through till 5pm full of Powerpoint type presentations where you will be seated at tables. The trade expo will be located around the walls of the auditoirum. There will be WIFI with password and morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea can be pre purchased on the link below which will give you more generous portions and unlimited tea and coffee than if purchasing on the day.
Alternatively, you can bring your own meals, tea and coffee. As we are privately funded, priority was put on bringing you the best programme we could having representatives from each State of ANZ.
We will break for dinner for 2 hours which you can purchase from any of the cafes and restaurants in town or bring yourself. There is a canvas and kettle tea room where you can eat and network anytime through the day or evening session. We will then return to listen to Johannes Lehamann Live Streamed from Free University in Berlin on the “Contentious Nature of Soil Organic Matter” and ask questions.

Day 2 will run from 9am – 5pm with similar presentations finishing with a discussion panel on “Biochar Industry in Australia & New Zealand “How to move from Research to Commercilisation” We will then break for two hours to pack down the trade expo and prepare the Auditorium for a Networking Dinner. You can see all the details for that and pre purchase a ticket here

Day 3 we will move over to the site of the weekly Murwillumbah Farmers Market at the Walmsley Pavillion and surrounding areas of the Murwillumbah Showgrounds where our trade expo will be set up and various demonstrations of biochar technology will be undergone on the outdoor ring next to it. Practical Workshops will also be delivered under the pavillion. Food will once again be available for pre purchase or on the day in an undercover serving and eating area.


If you haven’t already organised accommodation, then we suggest you visit the accommodation page for some suggestions and possible small discount here

Thank you again for attending ANZBC17 we look forward to catching up with you soon!!
Click on the links below to book into the Networking dinner or to pre purchase your meal ticket.

2 Day Meal Ticket
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Networking Dinner
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3 Day Meal Ticket
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