World Soil Day: 05Dec.

This posted here recently by Dr Tom Goreau…

“Last year, December 5 2015 was not only World Soil Day, but 2015 was also the Year of the Soil, sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)!
On that day I went to the FAO Information Centre at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, in the middle of the negotiations.
On December 1 France had proposed that soil carbon be counted in UNFCCC, and that countries commit to increasing it by 0.2% per year.
NONE of FAO’s large collection of glossy color brochures, books, leaflets, posters, CDs, etc. mentioned that it was World Soil Day, nor The Year of the Soil, nor that increasing soil carbon is the only way we know to avert runaway global climate warming and sea level rise. 
There were all sorts of agricultural vulnerability assessments for various climate warming models, with regard to “food security”, but nothing at all on soils as the solution to our climate change problems!
FAO reflects the mandate given to it by governments, and up to now they have not been instructed to make increasing soil carbon storage a priority!
Let’s hope that the Commonwealth Regenerative Development to Reverse Global Warming initiative (one third of the world’s governments and people) makes such a mandate a priority in the international climate change negotiations next year”
Thomas J. F. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
President, Biorock Technology Inc.
Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance
Coordinator, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Don Coyne in Korea

Nice report from Don on the recent Asia-Pacific Biochar Conference in Korea…

“Hi Everyone,

Had a great time at the Biochar Conference in Korea last month. See the trip report on my blog here  Thanks again to all those that made it possible and for enriching our lives. The future of Biochar is firmed up and the Science is in however, every different biochar may well have a different effect in different soil and in other applications for remediation and as a Construction material so growers/builders need to understand the Science and apply it.

If you’d like more information on next year’s ANZBC17 you can also visit and register super early for 25% Discount before the end of year.


IBI October newsletter

I’ve just circulated an ABE Sept/Oct newsletter but failed to attached the October IBI newsletter which has been forwarded to me in advance of a link on the IBI website.

Here’s a link and table of contents…

  • IBI Board commits to ambitious new Vision – 1 Billion tons of biochar per year!
  • IBI Memberships Now Available!
  • IBI Asia Launched in Nanjing, China
  • International Workshop on Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture
  • 3rd Asian Pacific Biomass Conference Re-cap
  • IBI responds to “Current economic obstacles to biochar use in agriculture and climate
    change mitigation”, an article in the magazine Carbon Management in September 2016
  • The IBI Online Biochar Training Course is Ongoing
  • Upcoming Calendar Events
  • Recently Published Biochar Research and Resources (a selection from October list
    • Relative influence of soil- vs. biochar properties on soil phosphorus retention
    • Soil biochar amendment as a climate change mitigation tool: Key parameters and mechanisms involved
    • Biochar effects on methane emissions from soils: A meta-analysis
  • Connect with IBI Members and Supporters


N-retention by biochar – new study

NZ links to this new publication, showing strong international collaboration.

Nitrate retention by biochar: mechanistic insights by 15N tracing

Kammann Claudia (1,3), Haider Ghulam (1), del Campo Bernardo (2), Mengel Jonathan (3), Schmidt Hans-Peter(4), Marhan Sven (5), Steffens Diedrich (1), Clough Tim (6), Müller Christoph (1,7)
(1) Department of Plant Ecology, University Giessen, Germany, (3) Geisenheim University, Germany, (2) Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA, (4) Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence, Arbaz, Switzerland, (5) Hohenheim University,Germany, (6) Lincoln University, New Zealand, (7) Earth Science institute, University College Dublin, Ireland
“Pyrogenic carbon (biochar) offers considerable potential for carbon capture and soil storage (CCSS) compared to other less recalcitrant soil-C additives. Moreover recent meta-analysis demonstrates that it can significantly reduce agricultural N2O emissions. However to “harvest” environmental benefits it is necessary to develop economic incentives for using biochar in soils. Nitrate retention, in particular in poor sandy soils, may provide such an incentive.
We explored the potential of biochar to protect mineral N against leaching or loss as N2O, and to deliver it for plant growth using various approaches, (1) observational: results obtained in two larger-scale agricultural field studies (I + II, with poor sandy soil and loess soil respectively) plus one macrocosm N leaching study with Vitis vinifera in poor sandy soil; and (2) mechanistic laboratory studies with untreated and composting- or field-aged biochars in sandy soil using 15N labelled mineral N species.
The results suggest a strong role of biochar in retaining mineral nitrogen mostly in the form of nitrate rather than ammonium (as could be expected). In the field study I (sandy soil) with biochar application rates of 15 and 30 tha-1 (n=4 per treatment) significant nitrate retention was observed after the second winter in the top soil (0-15 cm) where the biochar had been incorporated, while the subsoil nitrate concentrations (30 – 60 and 60 – 90 cm) were significantly reduced. Biochar particles extracted from the top soil by forceps showed a significant enrichment with nitrate; but only a fraction was extractable with conventional standard methods. In field study II (loess) 30 t ha-1 biochar were combined with the factor mineral N fertilization (0 – 200 kg N ha-1 in 5 steps; n=3 per treatment). Here strong growth improvements were observed with maize or wheat in the first and second year after biochar application only in the no- or low- (50 kg N ha-1)fertilized treatments, but growth improvements were low or absent when the N fertilization was in excess of the plant demand. In the macrocosm study with Vitis vinifera (cf. Riesling) pure biochar, pure compost, or biochar-compost mixtures were applied at 30 and 60 t ha-1 to the first 30 cm layer of a poor sandy soil. Vine containers were constantly drip irrigated over the vegetation period to allow leachate collection. Pure biochar reduced nitrate leaching by roughly 60% compared to pure control soil,but the combination of biochar and compost was most effective, reducing nitrate leaching to virtually zero.The subsequent 15N labelling-tracing studies revealed that the untreated as well as aged (co-composted) biochars strongly sorbed mineral N, particularly nitrate. For example in a soil mixture of 196 g soil with 4 g biochar(2%), up to 60% of the labelled nitrate-15N was be retrieved by washing the biochar particles out from the soil with distilled water roughly 50 hours after 15N application. Moreover, the co-composted biochar which was already nitrate- and organic-C-preloaded was more effective in sorbing mineral N; in addition it still reduced N2O emissions significantly, although it carried dissolved organic carbon and nitrate as prerequisites for denitrification. In parallel to the field experimental results (site II), the lab study results also showed that at least part of the sorbed N must have been plant available. However the plants did only access it (for significantly improved growth with the N-preloaded biochar) when the easily extractable mineral N pool had a-priori been depleted. Our results therefore encourage further investigations into strategies that combine nutrient-rich agricultural waste streams with biochar post-treatment as a way forward to achieve environmental benefits, improve the efficiency of agricultural N use and deliver economic benefits.”

Important new publication

This is a heavy read but should be of keen interest to folk concerned about biochar’s future role in climate change and carbon sequestration…

From: Tom Miles
Date: 22 October 2016 at 01:08
Subject: [biochar] IBI: Biochar for Carbon Removal from the Atmosphere
To: biochar@yahoogroups.com

Biochar for Carbon Removal from the Atmosphere

“In the October 21 issue of Nature Communications Woolf et al demonstrate that biochar could play an important role in removal of carbon from the atmosphere, which is increasingly recognized at essential to meeting global climate targets.  Woolf compared biochar-bioenergy systems with bioenergy alone and gasification-based bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, known as BECCS. In its 2014 report, IPCC flags BECCS as the only major land-based approach expected to draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, Woolf demonstrates that biochar-bioenergy systems that sequester carbon in agricultural lands could reduce carbon sequestration costs, allowing earlier adoption of a more aggressive policy of actively removing carbon from the atmosphere to avert dangerous climate change. Biochar-bioenergy competes favorably with BECCS at lower carbon prices, and where biochar addition to soils delivers significant increases in crop yields. Thus, effective use of biochar as a carbon removal strategy relies on identifying those sites that are most responsive to biochar. This requires similar knowledge systems as those commonly in place around the world to guide fertilizer application.  Averaged across all published scientific experiments, biochar increases crop yields around 20% with application rates often exceeding 10 t/ha. However, applications of less than 5 t/ha can increase crop yields by over 50% in certain types of soils. Even highly productive agricultural lands contain patches of degraded soils that would benefit from biochar application. Precision agriculture can deliver biochar to specific field locations where it can provide the greatest soil benefits.  Biomass energy in combination with carbon sequestration has enormous potential as a carbon removal strategy.  However, biomass is a widely dispersed resource best suited to small-scale, distributed bioenergy systems. In contrast, sequestration of carbon dioxide is necessarily a large, centralized operation to enable separation and injection of carbon dioxide into carefully selected geological deposits.  This mismatch in scale between bioenergy production and carbon dioxide sequestration is a challenge for gasification-based BECCS.  The relative simplicity of producing and sequestering biochar results in biochar-bioenergy systems that can be built at modest scale and widely distributed.  Their small size reduces the risk of deploying new technology, eases financing, and speeds adoption.  Biochar-bioenergy systems can play an important role in a global strategy to actively remove carbon from the atmosphere.”

ANZBC17 – advance announcement

Kiwis – I’m sure Don of the western-ile does not mean it literally… I’ve promised to try to help mount a NZ host-ile invasion for this event…

“Dear Friends & Colleagues,

In previous years, you have either presented, sponsored, exhibited, introduced, helped coordinate our Biochar Conferences. I seek your expression of interest and commitment again.

As I head off to Korea next week to the, I have put in place an interim webpage and options for delegates to Register for the Inaugural Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference 2017 which will be held on August 10,11 & 12 in Tweed N.S.W. (Venue TBC). The aim is to have an announcement made in Korea about our Conference so there is an opportunity to showcase yourself, your work and or your business to the Biochar World.

Our website is in maintenance mode and the interim webpage can be found here This takes you to the Registration Page here where you can also purchase a Stall at the Trade Expo which will be part of the Conference (Floor Plan to come). To encourage participants to commit and help us reach our goal of 200 Delegates, we are offering SUPER EARLY BIRD PRICES until December 31, 2016. 25% Discount.

I have attached Day 1 of our Programme for those that have committed to presenting again, thank you. This can also be downloaded off the Webpage. This excludes Bernard Doube from Dung Beetle Solutions who will be on Day 2 of the Programme which is not yet complete.

An invitation call out again to anyone in this email who would like to Present, Exhibit or Sponsor the ANZBC17 by Monday 17th October which will be the last chance before Korea. We are looking to have representatives from each of the States (Scientist & Grower) with New Zealand being another State. We already have strong representation from NSW and only one from S.A. so far.  The ANZBC17 Working Group will meet again on Monday November 7 and anyone is welcome to join in person or on Skype.  

I will be sending out a global email on the 17th so I look forward to hearing from you if I haven’t already.”

Chars, Don
Don Coyne
Event Coordinator

Wood Energy South Capital Funding


EECA has funds available to assist businesses with wood energy projects and welcomes applications as part of the Wood Energy South Project. Capital Grants are for capital projects with good demonstration potential that lead to wood-based bioenergy is being produced or used in Industrial or Commercial operations and a published case study.


Projects must satisfy the following criteria:
– Wood-based bioenergy is being produced or used in Industrial or Commercial operations.
– There is a clear benefit to the wood energy sector in Southland, either the supply or demand side, i.e. strategic value and potential for widespread industry adoption. These may include, for example:
– The potential use of wood fuel to replace fossil fuels
– The improvement of a supply chain for wood fuels
– Conversion of boilers to wood-firing
– At the time of applying for the grant, a commitment has not already been made for goods or services, i.e. contract signed or deposit paid.
– The project will lead to increased wood energy use, i.e. it is not just pure research.
– Installed Heat Plants must meet Regional air quality standards
– A feasibility study must be undertaken by a suitably qualified consultant without vested interest in any equipment involved in the project concerned unless approved by EECA.
– Be economically viable

If you have any questions about these criteria, please contact Wood Energy South before proceeding.

Depending on the evaluation of the grant application and project plan, the recipient may receive up to 40% of the total project cost. The maximum grant amount will be $100,000, payable upon completion of the project. NB: Grant funding is not confirmed until you have entered into a contract with EECA for the funding.

Contact : Cathy Jordan

Endeavour but no biochar

I’ve listed below a few interesting research projects, that could overlap with biochar interest…

2016 Endeavour Round successful proposals

“MBIE’s 2016 Endeavour Round will see 56 new scientific research programmes receive funding of more than $209 million over the next five years.

The Endeavour Fund invests in excellent research that has high potential to positively transform New Zealand’s future economic performance, sustainability and integrity of our environment, help strengthen our society, and give effect to the Vision Mātauranga policy, which aims to unlock the innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources, and people for the benefit of New Zealand.”

Lincoln University: Reducing environmental damage following urea application in pastures by using a bio-inoculant $977,500

Cawthron Institute: Improving Chinook salmon feed efficiency for industry growth $12,854,857

Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd:

Innovative ways to reduce farm nitrogen losses by manipulating carbon inputs $7,301,000

Integrated research and tools for wilding conifer management and ecosystem restoration $14,000,000

Soil ecosystem health and resilience – a pathway to prosperity and wellbeing $7,500,000

New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd Trading as Scion: Preparing New Zealand for extreme fire $8,750,000