Vivid Economics report

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!)

click to link to website

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.

Motueka Kai Fest: Biochar talk – 1st April

Don Graves is giving a biochar talk during the week of events leading up to KaiFest…

Day: Saturday 1 April
Time: 3-5pm
Location: Te Awhina Marae
Biochar is produced by heating wood and other carbon products to high temperatures in the absence
of oxygen, and then adding the resulting charcoal to soil. It has many uses in agriculture and
horticulture, including soil water retention, effluent control, increased fertility, and carbon
sequestration. This workshop will go into some of the details of how biochar can be made and used on a domestic or large commercial scale for these benefits.
Your speaker: New Zealand Biochar solutions is a local group established in 2016 to promote the use of biochar for reducing waste, enhancing long-term soil fertility, and sequestering carbon in the Earth where it belongs, rather than in the air where it contributes to climate change. Don Graves is a soil biologist who has studied biochar extensively.

Healthy Rivers Wai Ora – newsletter

It looks like the biochar ‘industry’ in NZ has missed any opportunity to wave the black flag here, for N management. I have been following the public engagement from afar over the years, but there did not seem to be a path to biochar acceptance as having potential technical application. At least, not until Overseer incorporates a biochar module (and I’m guessing that’s a distant hope).

Click on the image below for a link to the web version of the newsletter…

Waikato Regional Council is urging the public to step up and have their say on Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.The council has prepared its own submission on the proposed plan, and has received 280 submissions from the public to date. Submissions on the proposed plan close at 5pm tomorrow. You can still make a submission by clicking this link here.“Managing water quality in the Waikato and Waipā rivers is one of the biggest environmental issues facing our region. For the last two decades our community has told us water quality is their number one priority, now is their opportunity to have their say on the solutions proposed,” says council chief executive Vaughan Payne. Mr Payne said no policy is perfect when it’s first notified and as with any policy development there are aspects of the proposed plan the council believes may need to be refined. We expect this to happen through the submission process. The council submission takes into consideration how the plan can practically be implemented and enforced, how the plan affects the council as a land owner and key infrastructure provider, and how the proposed plan delivers on the regional council’s legal responsibilities for developing resource management policy for freshwater management.“Our submission supports the overall intent and objectives of the proposed plan while making practical suggestions for improvements in how Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora could be implemented for affected landowners, while ensuring the protection and restoration of the Waikato and Waipā rivers into the future,” Mr Payne said.

Key submission areas include the approach to nitrogen management, ownership of nitrogen reference points, including monitoring and enforceability, the implications of the current proposal on commercial vegetable production and addressing some inconsistencies in the proposed plan rules.You can read all the recent media releases here.

ANZBC2017 update – venue secured

G’day & Kia ora (How are ya?!)

Been a bit a hot out late hey?!! You know it’s amazing what this little black piece of biomass can do!!

Yes you’ve seen the Ads, imagine if Scott Morrison bought a piece of Biochar into Parliament, what hope would this invoke for our future?! Once carbonised, Biochar is a stabler form of carbon than compost and mulch and only needs to be applied once in a lifetime. But why is it often so expensive? Why isn’t this on the mainstream agenda for Farmers and Sustainable builders yet? We’ve had years of research and now the number of Scientific Papers per annum rivals Cancer and other important Medical Fields, why? We will explore these topics and more at ANZBC17 and engage with the Commercial players that are now entering the ANZ Market with Technology and Value added Bio-Products.

The Biochar Mineral Complex that the Cows and Dung Beetles have created 60cm down into the subsoil of Doug Pow’s Pasture in Manjimup Western Australia has now been analysed under the strongest microscope in the World thanks to Dr Stephen Joseph et al. We are discovering things that we never thought possible. We’ll get an update on this game changing, economically viable method from both of them at ANZBC17.

So, have you made a plan to attend, exhibit and or sponsor ANZBC17 yet? Then call us directly on +6459175729, check out all the info at and or email us at


Biochar Don (on behalf of the ANZBC17 Team)

Tweed Council resolve to Sponsor ANZBC17!!

Last Thursday night Tweed Council voted unanimously to Sponsor ANZBC17 via the Council’s Sustainable Ag Programme. As their logo encapsulates, in the Tweed, you’ve got the best of both Worlds with the great Mount Warning in the backdrop, ocean and surf not too far away, beautiful rivers winding through the hills as well as forest and bushlands for many walks.Chars so much TSC!!

Also welcome to new Silver Sponsor together with Southern Cross Uni’s Environmental Analysis Laboratories, Australian Sugarcane Magazine who has subsidised our advertising to reach out to Sugarcane Farmers wanting to get into a bit of Carbon Smart Farming. Big Chars to Australian Sugarcane!!

Would you like to Sponsor ANZBC17?! our Preliminary Sponsroship Deadline is March 2 so get in quick to capture Autumn opportunities!! Visit our website at


We have chosen to hold ANZBC17 in the heart of Sugarcane & Banana Country, Murwillumbah and we thank the Tweed Council, Murwillumbah Showgrounds & Tweed River Agricultural Society for hosting the event.

Day 1 & 2 will be held in the Auditorium of Murwillumbah Civic & Cultural Centre, right in town close to Cafes, restaurants and Pubs (you can get thirsty taking in all this information!!)

Day 3 will be held in the Murwillumbah Showgrounds & Tweed Valley Ag Society Function Centre. There will be a workshop programme, demonstrations, State Marquee Pavillions and more. Within walking distance to town, camping is available on site.

Trade Expo
Welcome to our new exhibitors Starfish Initiatives promoting their global Biochar for Sustainable Soils Project and Olssons Livestock Nutrition who have released the Organic Certified Biochar Salt Block. You can book a Trade Stall online now at Early Bird Prices which includes entry for 2 people into ANZBC17. Visit or email


Day 1 and 2 will involve Indoor Presentations using PowerPoint type slideshows 30 minutes long including Q & A. If you are interested in Presenting at ANZBC17 then please choose from the following categories and contact us using the Contact Form on this website;

(i) Technology & Production for matching sustainable biomass sources
(ii) Value added Bio-Products
(iii) Applied Science (Discoveries & Results)
(iii) Commercial Applications (Methods & Results)

Day 3 will involve indoor and outdoor workshops of a symposium type festival atmosphere with corresponding Trade Show. There will be indoor facilities available for PowerPoint Presentations and outdoor areas for Workshops that will range from 15 mins to 1/2 Hours long for demonstrations.

Please contact us using the contact form if you are interested in delivering a Workshop or Demonstration. A copy of your Public Liability Insurance is required.

Koanga article discussed biochar in the garden

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.”

LCR & biochar: leaky soil + methane

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: “

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.

Methane & biochar

Interest in methane is bubbling up all over the pace right now…

New research explores how wetlands and agriculture could be causing a global rise in methane

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.

USBI 2016 conference

Conference papers are now available – click the heading below…

BIOCHAR 2016 Symposium: The Synergy of Science and Industry. August 22-25, Corvallis OR.

“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.”


World Soil Day

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…