Biochar: Burying carbon for good

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A high level look at biochar: what it is, what it does, how its made and how it can be applied.

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Biochar: Burying carbon for good

  1. 1. BIOCHAR: Burying Carbon For Good
  2. 2. what is biochar? Highly porous, very stable carbon made from organic waste Improves SOIL Resiliency Reduces WATER Pollution Reduces CO2 levels in AIR
  3. 3. carbon negative Biomass Biochar 40 – 55% carbon 75 – 90%% carbon 75% mass loss 50% carbon loss pyrolysis Source: J Lehmann “Terra Preta Nova”
  4. 4. soil functions Biochar’s Soil Function Impacts Adds stable carbon to soils which stays in soil for hundreds of years. Other OM additions (e.g. manure, compost) bio- degrade in a few years. OM provides energy & nutrients to plants, stabilizes soil structures, improves resistance to erosion. Increased OM Most biochars have a strong surface charge (i.e. CEC) which helps hold nutrients in the soil while still making them available to plants. Soils enriched with biochar will need less fertilizer and will have less nutrient leaching thereby pre- venting eco-system damage. extremely light weight & highly porous giving it very low Bulk Density (BD). Soils with high BD (e.g. highly compacted soils) have poor root growth, low aeration and inefficient water filtration. Biochar added to compacted soils helps improve these soils functions. Biochar is improves bioactivity which improves resistance to disease & pests Due to biochar’s highly porous and stable nature, It provides an ideal environment for microbes. The amount & diversity of microbial activity in soils is a measure of its quality with higher activity indicating better soil. Adding biochar to compost speeds up the decomposition process due to Increased microbial activity. Biochar made from certain types of feedstocks such as poultry litter has material amounts of N-P-K. Biochar made from woody biomass generally does not have any significant N-P-K. When combined with nitrogen fertilizer the efficiency is improved resulting in higher yields and requiring less fertilizer use. Due to the large size of the pores (macro- pores) and its stability within the soil, biochar can provide a long term positive impact on soil water holding capacity. In sandy soils in particular, biochar can increase water holding capacity by as much as 50% at high application rates The sorptive properties (i.e. ability to attract and hold) of biochar help it to render toxins unavailable to plants. Biochar can help filter storm water and is useful in remediation efforts where toxic chemicals are found such as mine land remediation, fracking, chemical spills, etc. Most biochars are alkaline and will therefore help to reduce soil acidity and reduces short term liming needs. For alkaline soils, biochar may have no appreciable impact on yield. Maintaining proper soil ph improves nutrient efficiency and enables strong plant growth.
  5. 5. uses
  6. 6. feedstocks Source: K. Wilson for World Bank
  7. 7. production Pyrolysis & Gasification
  8. 8. biochar characteristics & benefits ClimateChange Mitigation Agricultural Benefits Remediation C/NRatio Recalcitrance CarbonContent Nutrients pH AshContentSurfaceArea BulkDensity MetalsContent ParticleSize CEC/ Adsorption ProductionVariables: • Feedstock • EquipmentType • Temperature • Ramp&HoldTime UseVariables: • Purpose(CC,Ag,Rem) • ApplicationRate • SoilType • Climate • CSequestration • GHGReductions • NOX • CH4 • ManureManagement • LivestockNutrition • NutrientRetention • SoilFertility • WHC • Restoration • Filtration
  9. 9. PEOPLE PLANET PROFIT Human Rights & Health • Food Security • Improved Fruit Quality Affordability/Social Equity • Reduced Reliance on Fertilizers & Fossil Fuels for Farmers Natural Systems • Eco-system Restoration • Storm Water Treatment • Remediation • Waste Optimization Climate Change • Carbon Sequestration • NOX Reduction • Renewable Energy • Waste to Energy Economic Development • Green Jobs • Clean Technology • Sustainable Growth Industry biochar’s triple bottom line
  10. 10. application methods Manure Spreader Around Trees Deep Banding
  11. 11. any questions? Contact: kathleen@fingerlakesbiochar.com

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