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DeVine Char project


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Explore the various ways biochar could be used on vineyards (specific to Finger Lakes region).

Published in: Environment
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DeVine Char project

  1. 1. Biochar Use for Finger Lakes Vineyards The DeVine Char Project
  2. 2. The Carbon Family Charcoal Biochar Activated Carbon Feedstock Hardwood, sawdust + Binding Agents Ag, forestry & other organic materials/waste Coconut shells, peat, coal, petroleum pitch Common Uses Fuel (Cooking) Soil Amendment Remediation Filtration Binding Agent (livestock) Filtration Odor Control Remediation Binding Agent (humans) Relevant Qualities Burnability Low smoke Adsorption/Porosity CEC Sequestration Adsorption Cost $ - $$ $$ $$$ Production Slow Pyrolysis; Kiln Slow Pyrolysis; Kiln; Gasification Pyrolyzed at 600 – 900C + activated at 250C OR Chemically impregnated & cooked @ 450 – 900C Carbon Footprint Carbon Neutral: May lead to Deforestation Carbon Negative (in many situations) Carbon Positive What is Biochar?
  3. 3. Challenges Faced by Vineyards in the Finger Lakes  Increasing costs for off-vineyard inputs for nutrient management  Yield variability within vineyards  Increasing variability of precipitation  Pest control  Soil compaction  Soil erosion  Nutrient Leaching can impact local water bodies
  4. 4. A Proposal for how Biochar might Contribute to Sustainable Viticulture 1. Reduce need for certain off-vineyard purchases 2. Improve yield consistency within a vineyard or block. 3. Improve internal water drainage and water holding capacity of soil. 4. Improve YAN. 5. Improve cation exchange capacity within the soil. 6. Combining biochar with grape pomace will accelerate composting and reduce leaching. 7. Improve microbial activity in soils 8. Add nutrients to the soil organically. 9. Reduce nutrient leaching. 10. Optimize waste biomass (vine prunings, old vines). 11. Improve root growth. 12. Improve vineyard floor management 13. Improve bulk density of soil and reduce compaction. 14. Reduce soil acidity (improve pH). 15. Neutralize toxins in soils.
  5. 5. 1. Reduce off-vineyard inputs Photo by Tim Martinson, Cornell University. Many FL vineyards add straw bales to every other row to improve OM. Due to drought, the cost of round bales increased nearly 100% in 2013 in the Finger Lakes. ($115 - $150 per bale) • Biochar provides long term stable organic material.
  6. 6. 2. Improve Yield Consistency Maximizing yield is not generally a primary goal for wine grapes and in fact vines are heavily pruned to control yield. However yield per vine within plots is often highly variable. Improved yield consistency would provide sustainable increases in tons per acre. • Targeted biochar application can provide an attractive precision viticulture tool.
  7. 7. 3. Improve Drainage & Water Holding Capacity Source: Annual precipitation rates for NYS have increased by 3.3” over the past 100 years, with 67% increase in 2” rain events. However precipitation in late summer/fall is decreasing. The Finger Lakes has experienced droughts in both of the past two years. • Biochar helps clay soils drain better and helps sandy soils hold up to 60% more water.
  8. 8. 4. Improve YAN Reference: Niggli, C., Schmidt, H.P. 2012/01. Biochar in European Viticulture: Results of the Season 2011. Ithakajournal. [Internet] Available from: Yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) is critical for fermentation and is often low in NY musts requiring winemakers to add nitrogen in the form of DAP. • A recent study in Italy found vineyards that applied biochar showed YAN increases of 38%
  9. 9. 5. Improve Cation Exchange Capacity Source: • CEC impacts the soils ability to store plant nutrients. • Increasing CEC is related to: • Increased OM • Increased pH • Increased clay particles* • Most biochars have strong surface charge, high pH and many (not all) have high level of recalcitrant carbon
  10. 10. 6. Improve Pomace Compost Grape pomace has significant nutrient content and is often applied to vineyards after composting. However it is generally very acidic which may not be good for acidic soils. Low pH also slows down decomposition. Also significant nutrients leach out and are lost during composting. • Adding biochar will likely improve pH, facilitate composting and reduce leaching.
  11. 11. 7. Improve Microbial Activity Healthy microbial activity in soils improves pest resistance. Biochar has been shown to have a significant positive effect on soil microbial activity. In one vineyard study biochar increased the ratio of beneficial parasitic nematodes & fungi to bacteria ratios which is likely to reduce the incidence of disease in vineyards. 12National Wine and Grape Industry Centre. 2013. Winegrowing Futures Final report - Vine health and environment. New South Wales, Australia. [Internet] Available from:
  12. 12. 8. Add nutrients to soil organically Black wattle Vineyard Prunings Sugar cane bagasse MACRONUTRIENTS Phosphorus (P) 397±4 1,989±102 451±32 Calcium (Ca) 13,783±120 17,177±1367 2,181±128 Magnesium (Mg) 1,349±73 3,908±255 1,158±71 Potassium (K) 5,670±42 15,746±982 3,463±271 Sodium (Na) 2,205±15 672±18 289±9 MICRONUTRIENTS Iron (Fe) 24±2 102±7 3,953±192 Aluminum (Al) 82±3.5 83±11 2,955±102 Manganese (Mn) 10±0.3 78±8 162±8 Zinc (Zn) 7±0.3 179±20 42±4 Copper (Cu) b/d 1.37±0.3 9±0.2 Cobalt (Co) 0.02±0.004 0.06±0.01 1.9±0.1 Molybdenum (Mo) 0.1±0.003 0.02±0.01 0.01 • Biochar nutrient content varies depending on the original biomass. • Vine prunings have been shown to produce biochar with significant nutrient content relative to other biomass feedstock. Source: Uras, U. 2011. Biochar from vacuum pyrolysis of agricultural residues: characterization and its applications. Stellenbosch University. Very important Somewhat important Not too important Importance to Viticulture Management
  13. 13. 9. Reduce nutrient leaching Many of the region’s vineyards are located on sloping terrain which facilitates leaching of excess nutrients and pesticides into the lakes. In recent years some lakes have experienced algal blooms and other negative impacts as a result of agricultural run-off. • Biochar’s positive CEC and high porosity has been shown to reduce run-off
  14. 14. 10. Optimize waste biomass  Vine prunings are often chopped & left on site to provide N and OM.  Diseased vines are often burned to prevent spread of disease but air pollution can result and there are restrictions on burning. Diseased and/or old vines Vine prunings
  15. 15. 11. Improve root growth 1 National Wine and Grape Industry Centre. 2013. Winegrowing Futures Final report - Vine health and environment. New South Wales, Australia. [Internet] Available from: 2 Niggli, C., Schmidt, H.P. 2012/01. Biochar in European Viticulture: Results of the Season 2011. Ithakajournal. [Internet] Available from: europaischen-weinbau-ergebnisse-2011?lang=en Strong root growth is an essential element of healthy vines which can be challenging in the shallow soils found throughout the Finger Lakes. • One study showed biochar contributed to increasing root length density by 223%.1 A separate study showed “significantly larger shoot diameters” when a 1:1 biochar-manure compost mix was applied at a rate of 10t/ha.2
  16. 16. 12. Improve vineyard floor management Certain pests such as grape cane borer and fungi such as eutypa dieback overwinter in vine prunings. • Removal and conversion into biochar would minimize these threats while providing a value-added product for use on the vineyard (or for resale).
  17. 17. 13. Reduce Compaction Tractors may be used a dozen times a year in a vineyard rows causing soil compaction which reduces infiltration of water, nutrients and air. • Biochar is light weight and highly porous and can help improve soil bulk density leading to better aeration and infiltration.
  18. 18. 14. Reduce soil acidity • Soils in the Finger Lakes are generally neutral to mildly acidic. • Acid rain has caused soils to become more acidic in the NE. • Many vineyards require lime applications • Biochar is normally alkaline & can reduce acidity in soils Optimal range for grapes
  19. 19. 15. Neutralize toxins in soils It is not uncommon for vineyard soils to have high levels of copper from repeated pesticide application. Also many vineyards use posts treated with CCA which contains chromium, copper & arsenic that can leach into soils. • Biochar has been shown to render these toxins plant unavailable and can prevent them from leaching into the environment.
  20. 20. • Kathleen Draper – Owner, Finger Lakes Biochar • Christian Pulver – Agronomist, Cornell University
  21. 21. Nutrient Ideal range Corrective Action pH 5.5 – 6.5 Lime to increase; sulfur to decrease Organic Material 3 – 5% as per PA Wine 2 – 4% as per Cornell Add pomace, compost, mulch, hay, green manure, manure, herbaceous plant tissue Phosphorus (P) 20 – 50 ppm; 40 – 100 lbs/acre Increase soil pH; add P Potassium (K) 75 - 100 ppm;150 – 200 lbs/acre Add K; improve drainage Calcium (Ca) 500 - 2000 ppm; 1,000 – 4,000 lbs/acre If pH ok, add gypsum… Magnesium (Mg) 50 - 250 ppm; 300 - 500 lbs/acre If low pH: dolomitic lime; if pH ok: Epsom Salt Iron (Fe) 20 ppm; 40 lbs/acre Lower soil pH; improve drainage Manganese (Mn) 10 ppm; 20 lbs/acre If low pH: apply lime. Toxicity can be problem. High pH add Mn foliar feed Zinc 2 ppm; 4 lbs/acre Zinc sulfate foliar feed = temp fix. Aluminium No range Toxicity can be problem. If low pH: add lime Copper .5 ppm; 1 lbs/acre Toxicity can be problem; Increase pH; decrease Cu sprays Boron 3 - 20 ppm; .6 - 4 lbs/acre Add B; adjust soil pH Soil Recommendations for Vineyard in NE