Anyone use charcoal in their compost or garden.
Terra Preta- Amazonian Dark Earth.
Is this something you know about or would like to know about?
Tell us what you think, yes we want to know.
Since making the charcoal is not a good thing for global warming this may not be all it is supposed to be.
Global Warming & Al Gore said that by the year 2010, children would not know what snow is! I have some on my lawn, so I am confused, Ancient Aliens seeker change the story to fit the evidence. The Global warming/Climate Change, people are doing the same thing. I expect more from scientist then conducting e-mail. Preacher,Politicians,soothsayers & grumble old people to lie, but not scientist. Science is based on what you can prove, everything else including my post is opinion, not fact.
I'm with you on that one. Global warming is the biggest farce foisted on man kind in all history closely followed by the Federal Reserve.
This morning in SW Florida could have made a Christmas post card. The lawns and roofs were frosted white even here by the coast. Inland farmers were wiped out again this year. Record busting cold again this year.
Al Gore and the rest of the global warming creeps can bite me. If there is a real concern it is that we are due to enter the next ice age and we have REAL scientific proof that they they come on fast and strong.
I'd like to know more.
I'd like to know if bothering to make oodles of charcoal would return anything in my lifetime.
With what little I know of making charcoal, it seems to me you have to be able to harvest the heat in the burning into something useful or the charcoal needs to be a by-product of some other process in order for it to be a viable process energy wise.
I don't see any point to putting charcoal into a compost bin since charcoal is already reduced about as much as it's going to. If anything, charcoal needs to go into the ground directly.
Correct me if I'm wrong but the benefit of charcoal or bio-char is its humus, soil structure making capacity which means you need to put a whole lot into the ground and then let it set a while. To put some in and then later make some more bio-char and then till it in kind of defeats the purpose since the tilling in of subsequent batches breaks up the soil structure. Maybe the application should be limited to depleted soil that's going to lay fallow for a while anyways. Perhaps an orchard operation would be able to make use of the technology.
So I'd first like to know how much bio char does it take and then how long does it take to do anything.
This thread could get heated...but that's ok for a compost pile. Anyway, one of my favorite lines came from Bill Clinton. At a speaking engagement he spoke of the first day of spring, "Otherwise known to Al Gore as further proof of global warming."
You have a point, the Bio-char works in the humus & soil.
The carbon foot print is good for the soil. We have found char in many places, some hundreds of years old, & it is still the best soil in the forest.
Do A search on it & you will find all the information on the systems in place.Much of this is ancient gardens by ancient gardeners. I am going to use a raised bed as a test plot this Spring.I was wondering if anyone on this site had use bio-char in their garden.
When I searched on Terra Preta a couples of years ago I didn't find much of value. I'll search again.
As far as Al Gore goes, it should be noted that he bought some beach front property not long ago in the Santa Barbara area. He can't be that worried by rising sea levels at least.
LOL, Rott...good point.
There were several threads on this subject a year or two ago. While I think there may be benefit to this, I never could figure out how to do it easily. We do occasionally have to burn slash after land clearing and I've spread the ashes around but don't think that's exactly the same thing. Sure grows grass well tho in those areas.
I know some posters here used a particular brand of commercial charcoal, perhaps they will see this thread and tell us how it's going.
I saved a couple of links which might answer some of your questions.
Gardening with bio-char: http://biochar.pbworks.com/w/page/9748043/FrontPage
Here is a link that might be useful: making terra preta soil
Mankind has cut down too many tropical forests; made too many barren deserts, made too much pollution. All this has hurt tree and plant life that sucks up CO2. Perhaps CO2 is driving some warming in some areas...I'm not sure. Some say that too much warming might bring an ice age.
It gets kinda complicated doesn't it? Anyway, I'm looking for the return of the Lord Jesus in the meantime.
Thanks for the link, I know it is not my dirt, but like the man who took 1 & made 10 for his master. I hope to multiply what I have.
I am not sure if the char has to been made or will store bought. I believe in organic gardening, but like the carpenter.
It can be hand made, without growing & cutting the tree myself, in order to get good handmade wood. Hopefully I will know more next fall.
Not too complicated. Whether you live in the forrest or the desert or the tundra, if you keep krapping in your own backyard, after a while you're not going to want to hang there.
The global warming bs is merely a marketing campaign to bring urgency to the issue. Argue all you want about how urgent the matter truly is or if its manmade or not and who truly benefits and who is truly hurt it's still a marketing campaign and the child of the seventies that I am, I'm going to follow the money. I remember little else from the seventies so that's what I do. Draw your own conclusions.
Meanwhile as we await the second coming, there's still all that krap in the backyard. While everyone else argues about who's going to clean up the bathroom, I'm just going to do my part and try not to make things any worse. I'm also running out of windex and paper towels.
Now the Terra Preta thing. Thanks for the link luckygal. I'll have to sniff around some more before I'm truly unsatisfied but it still seems the how much and for how long questions remain up in the air. I plant trees so I suppose I don't have a problem with planting stuff for future generations even if they're as snarky as I was.
I do still wonder if the energy equation is right. It seems to me it takes an awful lot of energy first to make bio-char, which is not the same as wood ash, and then some labor to put it into the ground in such a manner that it might do something. Seems to me, we're missing something here because it seems like nature always seems to have a better, more efficient way of doing things. We mere mortals always seem to foul things up somehow with our short cuts and labor saving technologies and their unintended consequences. For all we know this Terra Preta effect is an accident of devastating forrest fires and a particular fungus. We're starving for data to really come to a conclusion.
Please sir, I want some more.
Dear Soil Carbon Concerned,
You are receiving this post because of work you have done about Biochar systems, Soil Carbon issues or Biomass combustion systems, .
Biomass should never be just burnt, instead it should be fractionated to it's high value uses.
Biochar systems achieve this, to fill in gaps and hopefully expand your story & research , particularly concerning Christoph Steiner's new work with Biochar and NH3 conservation in composting systems.
Recent NATURE STUDY;
Sustainable bio char to mitigate global climate change
Not talked about in this otherwise comprehensive study are the climate and whole ecological implications of new , higher value, applications of chars.
the in situ remediation of a vast variety of toxic agents in soils and sediments.
Biochar Sorption of Contaminants;
Dr. Lima's work; Specialized Characterization Methods for Biochar http://www.biorenew.iastate.edu/events/biochar2010/conference-agenda/agenda-overview/breakout-session-4/production-and-characterization.html
And at USDA;
The Ultimate Trash To Treasure: *ARS Research Turns Poultry Waste into Toxin-grabbing Char
the uses as a feed ration for livestock to reduce GHG emissions and increase disease resistance.
Recent work by C. Steiner showing a 52% reduction of NH3 loss when char is used as a composting accelerator. This will have profound value added consequences for the commercial composting industry by reduction of their GHG emissions and the sale of compost as a nitrogen fertilizer.
Since we have filled the air , filling the seas to full, Soil is the Only Beneficial place left.
Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.
Thanks for your efforts.
Erich J. Knight
Chairman; Markets and Business Committee
2010 US BiocharConference, at Iowa State University
EcoTechnologies Group Technical Adviser
Shenandoah Gardens (Owner)
1047 Dave Barry Rd.
McGaheysville, VA. 22840
540 289 9750
Co-Administrator, Biochar Data base & Discussion list TP-REPP
Biochar Soils.....Husbandry of whole new Orders & Kingdoms of life
Biotic Carbon, the carbon transformed by life, should never be combusted, oxidized and destroyed. It deserves more respect, reverence even, and understanding to use it back to the soil where 2/3 of excess atmospheric carbon originally came from.
We all know we are carbon-centered life, we seldom think about the complex web of recycled bio-carbon which is the true center of life. A cradle to cradle, mutually co-evolved biosphere reaching into every crack and crevice on Earth.
It's hard for most to revere microbes and fungus, but from our toes to our gums (onward), their balanced ecology is our health. The greater earth and soils are just as dependent, at much longer time scales. Our farming for over 10,000 years has been responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. This soil carbon, converted to carbon dioxide, Methane & Nitrous oxide began a slow stable warming that now accelerates with burning of fossil fuel. Agriculture allowed our cultural accent and Agriculture will now prevent our descent.
Wise Land management; Organic farming and afforestation can build back our soil carbon,
Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.
Modern closed loop pyrolysis reactors have no emissions,
Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.
Biochar viewed as soil Infrastructure; The old saw;
"Feed the Soil Not the Plants" becomes;
"Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !".
Free Carbon Condominiums with carboxyl group fats in the pantry and hydroxyl alcohol in the mini bar.
Build it and the Wee-Beasties will come.
Microbes like to sit down when they eat.
By setting this table we expand husbandry to whole new orders & Kingdoms of life.
( These oxidised surface charges; carbonyl. hydroxyl, carboxylic acids, and lactones or quinones, have as well a role as signaling substances towards bacteria, fungi and plants.)
This is what I try to get across to Farmers, as to how I feel about the act of returning carbon to the soil. An act of penitence and thankfulness for the civilization we have created. Farmers are the Soil Sink Bankers, once carbon has a price, they will be laughing all the way to it.
Unlike CCS which only reduces emissions, biochar systems draw down CO2 every energy cycle, closing a circle back to support the soil food web. The photosynthetic "capture" collectors are up and running, the "storage" sink is in operation just under our feet. Pyrolysis conversion plants are the only infrastructure we need to build out.
To me, in the long run, the final arbiter / accountancy / measure of sustainability will be
soil carbon content. Once this royal road is constructed, traffic cops ( Carbon Board ) in place, the truth of land-management and Biochar systems will be self-evident.
For those looking for an overview of biochar and its benefits, These authors have done a very nice job of distilling a great deal of information about biochar and applying it to the US context:
US Focused Biochar report: Assessment of Biochar's Benefits for the USA
Here is a link that might be useful: TP Bioenergylists
Sir Erich (being a Knight and all I assume we need to call you sir), thanks for all the great market information.
Careful for what I wish for eh? I asked for more and got more than that.
Burnt vs fractionated: what's the difference in terms of energy consumption?
What's the difference from burning and raising the temperature to 700 degrees C as in the case of poultry litter?
I'm not following how you get to a feed ration for livestock. Forgive me, I'm not a Markets Committee Chairman.
Reduction of NH3 in compost? At what cost?
Yeah yeah yeah. Filling the soil with carbon sounds great on paper but just exactly how do you do that in a cost AND energy efficient manner?
I'm not following the "Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !" part. Perhaps you could explain that to a not so hip in biotech like myself.
Lovely website at biochar-us but I don't see a lot of what it is that you do do. What is it that you do do there?
Forgive me if I seem difficult or dense. I'm probably both. I just don't see a whole lot to buy on. Yeah the charred poultry litter looks neat but it also looks expensive. The energy to produce all this char stuff has got to come from some where whether you're burning scrap wood or draining a nuclear power plant. Then this char stuff needs to be applied whether in waste water treatment or pumped into the ground somehow. All this energy costs dollars.
So, assuming you've sold everyone, how do all these great promises get realized? And how much does it cost?
I know it's easier to tear down things than build them up but, I want to believe.
Can soap boxes be burned to make bio-char?
I am glad to hear what you think about bio-char.
This what makes the net & this site great.
"Burnt vs fractionated: what's the difference in terms of energy consumption?"
Pyrolysis, Gasifiers, Hydrothermal Carbonization, some call it SCW, super critical water process, there are many pathways to fraction biomass to highest value use. Only gases and oils are burnt, burned or combusted. The charing reactions are exothermic and once initiated feed themselves and export 1 MWh electric per 1Ton of biomass.
"I'm not following how you get to a feed ration for livestock." & "Reduction of NH3 in compost? At what cost?"
Research into biochar as bulking agent in composting.
University of Georgia, Nitrogen availability from Char & NH3 loss with composting & char.
I particularly like the NH3 loss graph, spiking at each turning of the compost.
I think this 50%+ conservation of nitrogen will allow commercial composting operations to become a main stream NPK Fertilizer product, beyond the humic substances & wee-beasties of the compost with this NPK-C analysis is a blended soilfeed ration for the livestock under your feet.
An author of the above study, Casey Ritz at U of GA is in his second year of study replicating this Japanese work with char feed rations in poultry;
The Japanese are now showing that a 5% addition to ruminant and poultry feed rations have profound benefits to the overall carbon foot print and disease resistance for livestock. They battery raise organic poultry with no antibiotics, selling odorless eggs at twice the market price. In ruminants they report 50% reductions of CH4 belching and higher feed conversion rates.
Contact the Japan Biochar Association ;
My main interest are the soil food web improvements, increased CEC, water retention and nutrient efficiency of biochar soil carbon sequestration, but of the several higher value uses now being pioneered the feed supplements show great potential. Beyond rectifying the Carbon Cycle, biochar systems serve the same healing function for the Nitrogen & Phosphorous Cycles, and remediation of Toxicity in Soils & Sediments. The production of fossil fuel free ammonia & char (SynGest, http://www.syngest.com/ ) and the 52% conservation of NH3 in composting with chars, are just the newest pathways for the highest value use of fractionated biomass.
Biochar systems for Biofuels and soil carbon sequestration are so basically conservative in nature it is a shame that republicans have not seized it as a central environmental policy plank as the conservatives in Australia have with their ; "Carbon sequestration without Taxes".
""Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !"
The MYC fungi form an Interstate highway for moisture & nutrients while at the same time form an Internet for plant chemical communication.
"Lovely website at biochar-us but I don't see a lot of what it is that you do do. What is it that you do do there?"
I Gave the opening plenary talk and helped organize the conference. Most importantly got the leader of the Biochar Fund to close the conference.
Another significant aspect of low cost Biomass cook stoves that produce char, is removal of BC aerosols and no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing "Three Stone" stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria & Aids combined.
The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).recently funded The Biochar Fund $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
(4) Climate change.
The Biochar Fund :
Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon
The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )
Mark my words; Given the potential for Laurens Rademaker's programs to grow exponentially, only a short time lies between This man's nomination for a Noble Prize.
"And how much does it cost?"
The low hanging fruit will be first;
Enginuity is the company doing the 16 Ton/day gasificer with Stirling gen-sets on a dairy and poultry farm near me.
The income stream from Nutrient Credits, Char & Compost sales, Power generation and REAP/BCAP program grants results in about a four year payback period, then all the 2.2 MWh, base load manure is "gravy".
Enginuity Energy LLC, a renewable energy company and holder of patented Ecoremedy" gasification technology announces a strategic marketing agreement with Coaltec Energy USA, Inc. an energy solutions provider specializing in the integration of gasification technology for the creation of clean energy and biochar.
Here is a link that might be useful: Biochar corn root balls
2lbs of organic charcoal grind up to corn to rice size & add 1 cup of azomite or real salt let stand in compost for 6months to activate. Then feed your plant beds.
Are we back to Global Warming again??? I thought it was changed to climate change, when all the snow did not melt( 1996 claim that all the snow would melt by 2015 with all the Global Warming).
As for the Carbon Foot Print & Bio-char, if you drive a car you do far more harm then the making of char will ever do.
The Bio-char does not compost or make compost. It absorb the 60 trace minerals & elements, then slowly release them into the soil. Why use the char instead of applying the minerals each year? Waste & run off, which is bad for the air, water & pocketbook. I would say that water pollution is worse then Global Warming, because it has been proven to be real, not just a political ploy/theory.
can't find an off line contact for you.
the destruction of habitat is often overlooked in this scorched earth paractise of slash and burn and create errosion and degredation of land.
Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page
I've used biochar for 2 years now , the first year i didn't notice much of a change but this year i had onions almost the size of my head , by far the biggest i had ever grown .
I used basalt dust and compost tea this year to boost the microbe population , I'm looking for some granite dust for this year because im adding more biochar beds.
I was told that it takes at least 6 months for the Bio-char to active. So that may be why you saw improvement in year two.
Thank you for your post, please up date this Spring.
I am going to use Azomite first. I will research the basalt dust.
If one starts with a fairly typical soil that has little to no humus it can take 3 to 5 years for the Soil Food Web to develop into the fully functioning society you want so seeing no great difference for a year is not an indication what you did was not working. It took time for the soil to die and it will take time for it to come back to life.
Making BioChar usually requires more BTU inputs then one would get in return indicating that it may not be as sustainable as projected.
Onions 6 inches are pretty sustainable. Plus my garden has been worked for four years, after I moved out of a whitetail Deer path. Again, I think that the web is different in different places.
I forgot to mention that i havn't had potato bugs in my garden since. jolj do you use lump charcoal to make yours or do you have a retort?
Frontier in the band at lowes,that has no additive. It is pure raw charcoal. I have not used it yet, Bio-char was the subject of a blog on Kitchen gardeners web site, so I researched it & found out all about it. The person who started to answer my question, gave me the recipe for it.
Then I came on here & found you, thank you for the can do
In the spring, I am going to mix 1/8 cup of Azomite with 2lbs of char, that is the size of corn to rice seeds. Let it set for 6 months, so it can active. It dose not matter if it is in unfinished compost or finished compost or in the bed. But if you put in in a raised bed, do not plant the bed until the bio-char is active.
I am going to put some in a sheet compost project & put some in a 5 gallon bucket (get the buckets free), to see if it will active in the bucket. I do not have the time for the Bio-char now, see the thread on coffee chaff.
I want to thank you for your in put again. I was beginning to think, I was the only one who had every tried something to see if it was what the press/web said it was.
Yes, Frontier is a lump charcoal, not formed in biscuits.
Why all the "slash and burn" comments. I might not have been paying attention. In short, the Terra Perta (sp?) method is ancient and being touted as an alternative to "slash and burn". Instead of burning down entire amazon forests they are suggesting burning to make bio char to enhance the soil. And why is everyone so worried about a back yard bonfire when so many politicians supporting the "climate change" (notice the name change since the cold came in?) burn a huge carbon foot print flying in private jets across country and sending a private jet for their dinged dog to catch up with them on retreat and also when they fly across the nation to tell us how horrible we are to the earth they burn up one average person's ten year carbon foot print in two hours EACH TIME? Perspectives, people.
Bio char differs from ordinary BBQ charcoal by being burned with very little oxygen rather than an open well-oxygenated fire. The "carbon" contain enormous surface areas at a microbial level provide great "stickiness" and hiding places for all the goody microbes in the soil. When present in the soil all those microbes and life forms never leave entirely leave or become depleted no matter how much you work and plant (without chemicals) because they're sticking to the biochar. Therefore, if you build a garden one season the innoculated bio char keeps some of those molecules housed. It takes thousands of years for bio char to decompost. Even if the garden is not worked those microbes, over time, housed inside the bio char repopulate making the soil somewhat "regenerative" in its own state. A man native to Amazon who sells this type of dirt attests to its regenerative property. He will scalp a section of the land. We're talking thousands of tons. Then, he leaves that section alone for 20 years. IT REGENERATES AND RETURNS to the same accumulation and density without any prior help. Now THAT'S self-sustaining and it's all because they used bio char. In addition it does all sorts of wonderful tricks in assisting the transfer of these soil-born lifeforms helping the growing plants giving rise to some of the most productive gardens.
When making bio char an entire enclosed container can be explosive such as those built for commercial extraction but backyard "gasifiers" can and are utilized safely with minimal safety hazards. The idea also supports fuel for engines as the burning processes lets off "gases" (gasifier) and then forms "bio char" as waste. It's nothing new. However, it does not gain popularity because .. quite simply ... the scientists who discovered it found bio char absorbs green house gases at an enormous rate and tout it to be a permanent solution to "climate change". Instead of selling it as a soil amendment on the market or providing information for sustaining small farmers they went right for the hype on global warming and tried to sell it as a "cure". No one listened. So why aren't we using it? Because fixing climate change or "global warming" would not allow a tax and cram scam devised by the world's governments to tax our farts and utility charges while they fly around the world in private jets burning up one person's ten year carbon footprint in two hours ... and on and on and on. It's the same reason real and legitimate alternative fuel sources - ready and waiting - are not replacing oil consumption. "They" don't want it destroying their ongoing greedfest. Also, because they've thoroughly convinced you that burning a fire in your back yard is vewy vewy bad while they fly their private jets across country ... you get the picture. Global warming is a scam to tax you and organized a one-world government. Climate change is a scam... for the same reason. They just changed the name because the height of global warming occured during the worst global snow blizzard in recent history. They know people will forget and continue to feel guilty (about making a bonfire in their yard while the politicians fly across the country in private jets ....). While there are legitimate things to be concerned with make certain your source of information is not funded directly or indirectly by politics. It can be difficult to tell. Many scientists are aware of the truths but afraid to lose their jobs. Some have chosen to speak out. Read up. Read varying sources.
I'll be utilizing this wonderful theory. The Amazonian built an entire thriving civilization atop the world's worst soil entirely by utilizing this method.
Unfortunately, when Europe discovered the Amazon in it's prime they introduced biological viruses the Amazonian were not immune to and that civilization died out to what we see now as remote isolated villages. The moral? Who paid for the adventurer to find the Amazon? Politicians, of course looking for gold or a way to make money. So, stay away from politicians. They'll make you sick. Stick with facts and don't worry about any stupid carbon footprint. Bio char is proven to work. Recycle, reduce and reuse only because you care. I do.
So, burning a bonfire isn't going to cause too much of a problem as long as a constant and easy access source of water is handy to avoid burning the neighborhood down in the process. If you're not accustomed to handling large and hot fires do not attempt this.
Screw the politicians. I want my garden to flourish like the Amazon's black dirt. I want Earth to thrive without being taxes because we really do care.
"Global warming is a scam to tax you and organized a one-world government."
All your technical comments would be more credible if you took off your tinfoil hat. :-D
Global Warming can be real & be a scam to tax you.
Gasoline is real & it is a tax scam.
I do not believe gas is taxed because we use a lot or to make us green.
We us a lot white sugar & it does not have it's own tax.
Gas has been tax for a long time, if it was to help us become green, then why has the money not been used to promote other energy.
For that matter what happen to all the money & companies that as invested in the last 3 years.
And what does all this have to do with charcoal in the garden? No a thing.
"Bio char differs from ordinary BBQ charcoal by being burned with very little oxygen rather than an open well-oxygenated fire."
"the scientists who discovered it found bio char absorbs green house gases at an enormous rate"
Simply nonsense. The low level of technical accuracy on some of these boards is nigh onto stunning. The more "organic" they are seemingly the less accurate.
Other people's experiences in actual growing (and often not the interpreted reasons) plus hints as to sources of plants, materials, and sometimes information, are what is worth giving some confidence to.
The only proven "greenhouse gas" in a scientificly proven manner is water vapour, all else is theory conjecture and simple opinion.
my gardens flourish and they need no slash and burn technology to do so, can just imagine if everyone ran a bio-char incinerator in their yards there would be more pollution caused than what is now.
no need for it don't be sold on it.
if carbon footprints theory is to be believed then this charcoal has a big footprint, trees get cut down and turned into charcoal somewhere and then it has to be transported to where it is going to be used. and then take up to 1k years to actually work (the timeline for what they discovered down the amazon way)
Here is a link that might be useful: lens permaculture essay
Very few back yards are going to make char anyway. While wise carbon use is important, it seems like a backdoor attempt to control more and more of our lives to me.
I have 14 acres of trees, so I think the 1 bag of charcoal & 20 or so bales of peat moss will be balanced out.
How many trees do you have, a electric car or a under ground house?
I think if you can not answer "YES" to the above question you have a big carbon foot print in your mouth.
Sorry if I hurt someones feeling, but recycling house hold waste does not give one the right to assume they are changing the world & that the rest of us are not helping.
Wood exposed to a high-oxygen burn leaves mostly fly-ash and if to a low-oxygen burn leaves more charcoal.
For example, I get both from my masonry heater. When the flue is open the wood is burning at a maximum rate (and efficiency), generating heat output that would melt down any metal stove. When the wood breaks down to that deep bed of red 'coals', giving off virtually no smoke, I shut off the flue and it is starved of oxygen so that what carbon remains is converted to charcoal, and more importantly the stored heat in the masonry does not continue to freely exit via the hot chimney.
As for making Bio-char in your back yard.
I am not & most home owners are not going to go though the expense to make a charcoal stove.
We will buy it first, most raised garden will not use more then one bag per application. If it is only 1/3 as good as the user have told me, the one application is enough for a life time.
I will get back with you on it in 3-5 years.
pnbrown, that is how the African charcoal maker made what he sold, only he had a clay/ceramic stove, that he made.
...making the charcoal, not a good thing for global warming?
Not the case at my house.
The community I live in is surrounded by forest in every direction. Four years ago, I quit using my gas furnace...and started cutting my own firewood. It is now the primary source of heat in my house. Doing so produces several by-products...none of it goes into the trash, it's used in the garden. Not 'dumped' in the garden, as if it were toxic waste. Used in the garden, in various ways...as a means to replenish, and improve the condition of the soil.
Charcoal is just one example of several. Its the carbon remains of whatever wood is left to burn in the stove when the damper is closed. Ash comes from the wood that burns up in the presence of oxygen. Creosote is the resiude left behind when the vapor from my warm fire hits the cold air outside, and condenses along the walls of my stack. You could also count the sawdust from my chainsaw, since its all consumed by the garden as well.
The 'waste' from my woodstove gets cleaned out, and is later sifted to seperate the charcoal out of the ash. Then it gets pushed through 1/4" screen where its crushed into dust, bits, or chunks. Size is not all that significant to me. It gets added directly in the soil, wherever its absent. It also goes into the hot piles...if a source of carbon is needed, and charcoal happens to be handy. When the charcoal supply runs out in the summer, its gone until the wood stove cranks up again in the fall.
The ash is used for other things. It sometimes gets thrown on the ground to melt ice during the winter, usually along the route between the back door and my truck. It sometimes gets tossed in the yard where future paths will be added... to *temporarily* discourage any plants from establishing there 'for now' - the effects of one or two applications doesn't last forever. Depending on the soil, the effect typically doesn't last very long, IMHO.
My very favorite usage for ash? It's not to make soap, though that is true for some people. I like to use it for cold-composting pine straw. It seems to accelerate decomposition of the needles, where...without adding the ash, they can sit for three years or better without changing very much. They will eventually break down to a rich dark black loam, with an excellent texture. With the ash, it happens at a rate thats more fun to witness... plus the earthworms go nuts over the stuff, ash residue and all. :)
The sawdust is a no-brainer. Makes an exellent soil conditioner to use the next spring. Also gets mixed in with used coffee grounds by the gallon, where it melts right into the pile without a trace. Along with any weeds, veggie waste, ground up eggshells, etc. Truth be told, having my own supply of sawdust might have been the ultimate incentive... when I decided to retire the furnace forever. I use it for too many things, it would be a really long list.
The creosote is a little harder... which is okay with me, since one season doesn't produce very much. It is what gets scraped off the walls of the chimney, where it lands in a bucket. I've heard it can be used to treat wood that will be in contact with soil...to discouage rotting and unwanted insect activity. After next year, I might have enough to try it...but so far I don't. Not even half a pail full, after 3 years of cleaning the chimney once a month on the average.
I might also mention... All the firewood that is burned to heat my house, comes from wildfire mitigation efforts - that is, it's either wood from an existing burn scar on the landscape, or has been cut intentionally to prevent a forest fire from spreading out of control in the future. The agencies in place who run these wildfire prevention programs are popular in my area. Most of them rose from the ashes of a fire called Hayman...which took out 200,000 acres of forested land in this area, in 2002. (Imagine what a fire like that will do to the atmosphere, if your worried about that. Preventing fires is a priority here, it's also where all my firewood comes from, along with most of my mulch - which I use by the ton.)
So, before labeling me as an irresponsible American, because I'm burning wood everyday, and trashing the Ozone? Take a closer look at your own carbon footprint, and compare it to mine.
I make 4 trips to the landfill a year, 2 bags per trip...for a total of 8 bags of unrecycleable waste every year. And I think I can do better, this year...I'm trying for six. I don't pay the $60 to have someone to drive to my house every week, to pick up my trash, plus I'm saving $100 on my gas bill every month during the winter. I've put 50,000 miles on my eleven year old compost. Flush my toilet onc a day...pee goes on the hot piles. My dog pees there too. (such a good boy) I could go on...but would hate to offend any carbon mongers who are still in the closet, and believe they are part of some arbitrary solution they've only applied in their heads...
(I don't know why, but reading this thread has really set me off...
It's a process. Given that I live on a mountain...largely made of granite? For me, learning how to compost was a natural place to start, it has been the priority -and its really starting to pay off. I can see positive results....my soil is much better. Its spongy and alive in areas that were hard as a rock when I moved here. Unlike my neighbors, something other than pine trees and weeds will actually grow on my property, in places where it couldn't before.
Composting saved me first... switching to firewood helped, along with all that entails...charcoal included. Ash too. The little bit that I add to my soil is not causing any major disasters...its not going to the landfill, and its helping to keep the forests safer and thriving around me. The earthworms are happy, and reproducing in mass. It can't be as bad as some would suggest... just saying.
P.s. Special shoutout to the ash slingers, I know you are out there. Sling one for me...:)
Les, thanks for sharing some of the details of your 'home economy'. We are kindred spirits - I think about the overall balances, the tradeoffs, and what to do with my 'waste' products a lot.
Very interesting that ash helps slow composting of browns. I might have to try that. I am at the same place with woodstove ash, sifting out the charcoal to use in the garden.
I'm guessing the creosote you've got from your chimney is the crusty stuff that flakes off. If so it's not going to be much help for wood treating. There are grades of creosote and the stuff they use for wood treatment is a bit different. You can always feed it back into a hot fire and re-burn it.
I haven't signed up for trash pickup either. I produce about a bag in 6 months I suppose. Yes, there are some older items in closets from yesteryear.
It's kind of boggling to see the amount of trash setting out on trash pickup day. And beyond that, someone dumped out windows IN THE ROAD that broke. If they just had to get "rid" of that load of windows and sofa, why couldn't they at least set the glass down beside the road without strewing glass in the road?
wayne, I feel your pain! I hate midnight dumpers and have a general annoyance with people who throw out massive amounts of stuff every week. I have neighbors who don't recycle, and it's about as easy as it can get.
I was going to stay out of this thread but since I'm writing I'll address this one:
"The only proven "greenhouse gas" in a scientificly proven manner is water vapour, all else is theory conjecture and simple opinion."
From the viewpoint of this environmental chemist, that is not true. It is a relatively simple matter to determine the UV absorption characteristics of various gases in the lab, measure their concentrations at any desired altitude, and determine the effects on net solar energy absorption. In fact, it was done decades ago.
One question.....Are Mars and Venus warming any?
Tox, I don't know if ash works on all browns. It might. From my own observations, I've noticed there's something about pine needles that makes it hard to keep them wet. The ash gets wet, and makes kind of a paste, or slurry...really alkaline. The pine needles being acidic... it seemed like a good place to temporarily pile ash one winter. Then it got snowed on. Snow melted. I mixed it around a bit. Moved on to something else. More snow...repeat repeat repeat. Later that spring... I found the needles in that bin were breaking down very nicely where they were in contact with the ash. It was turning dark black, grainy, and full of earthworms. Made me happy.
On the other end of the yard, another bin of pine straw from the same load had been ignored. It looked the same as when I brought it home. Got me thinking. It could be argued that it was the mixing. That the ash forced it to stay wet. I'm doing it again this year as a test. Two bins of pine straw. One with ash, one without. Mix both the same, try to keep them wet the same...and see what happens. :)
My neighbor sets out between 6-8 bags of trash a week... I find it a bit nauseating. Out in the woods, I'm always finding piles of trash from people dumping illegally. If its stuff I can use, like yard waste or lumber...I'll bring it home. It amazes me the stuff people throw away, without a second thought about it.
As far as global warming... I think the science is there, its been there for a long time now, and is well substantiated. Possible corrective measures may be a bit fuzzy, complicated, or political. It seems to me, those who would go out of their way to challenge it, or dispute it...either have never looked at the science, don't understand the science, are resistant to (or fearful of) making changes in their own lives...or they work for the oil industry. That's just my opinion on the matter.
We will anxiously await your next pine needle experiment. I would not be surprised if the high pH helped break up cell walls in the pine needles and made them more compostable. The snow and rain eventually leached out the high pH allowing worms to come in. Who woulda thunk?
wayne: I think Venus already did. It's about 800 F under that cloud layer. :-]
I know that Venus is already hot, but I am wondering if Mars has heated up any lately. Venus might be hard to ascertain.
--From the viewpoint of this environmental chemist, that is not true. It is a relatively simple matter to determine the UV absorption characteristics of various gases in the lab, measure their concentrations at any desired altitude, and determine the effects on net solar energy absorption. In fact, it was done decades ago.---
Water vapour is a proven commodity for its effect, ALL ELSE is guess work that cannot be proven - simple fact.
I am not going go further into this but it is pretty much like the word "theory".
In other forums when told that a theory is just a way of saying scientific guess work, they respond by saying "but to scientists -theory- has a different meaning."
To which I tell them, of course, when the word/s do not support the the opinion of the concensus, change the meaning of the word/s.
I have an English major and words mean things.
When they stop having absolute meaning, or mean whate ever one wants at the moment, you have incoherent babble, of which Ebonics was a wonderful example.
Does climate change exist?
Always has and always will. The "Dust Bowl" days showed how quickly it can happen.
Can man playing God do anything about it?
Beyond keeping water safer for man and beast, only in his mind.
PS-It amazes me, though not much, that while governments are strutting their stuff about "Global warming" society is charging willy-nilly into a digitally controlled communications and transportation.
All this despite the fact industry journals, including defense related, have that a nuclear bomb detonated miles high (the greater the yield the greater the diameter) will leave hundreds to thousands of miles squared of civilization below totally blind as far as communications, and with the new cars, transportation, for at minimum weeks, and more likely months.
You do not have to worry about being cooked or flooded by "global warming" but you had better invest in bycycles to get around and wrap some CBs in lead foil, you may need them.
The pine needle has a wax coating, that is why they are used for mulch by non composter.
I worked with a nurseryman who turned the old straw over before adding new straw.
This was to break up the layer of wax under the matted straw that would act as a water shed.He said the water would run out of the bed into the lawn.
Many composter I know shred the pine straw so the micro's can get to the broken ends.
"Water vapour is a proven commodity for its effect, ALL ELSE is guess work that cannot be proven - simple fact."
If we cannot agree on the facts, we are not going to get far.
I got it - I'll stick to my environmental chemistry if you'll stick to your English. :-]
I think it is very high price & that is before shipping!
We on this thread are talking about if it is safe & productive.
mauser just wants to sale something.
RpR do you have a link?
I would like to hear this from more then one source.
If you mean about the effects of a EMP here is one on nukes and one on how the military is developoing conventional weapons to do this on a smaller scale.
If you mean greehouse gasses:
Here is one:
I read Aviation Week and Space Technology, the problems and effects of EMPs are mentioned in it and such journals often.
RpR, thinks for the links.
Everyone think you for your replies.
This thread give a body things to think about.
This link is a study on bio-char garden study.
Here is a link that might be useful: Bio-char study
i really think a long bow is being draw in that study link, that is the natives chopped down trees to create farm land they burnt those trees in the open and the bi-product ash and charcoal was incorporated into the soil as a way of disposal, not a deliberate act to supposedly improve the soils and of course 2k years later on the benefits by appearance seem obvious and it fits the modern story very well.
it is and always will be slash and burn technology, we have never used the stuff never felt the need to use it, our plants are all healthy with only green mulch (which provides nutrients as it breaks down) and rottable kitchen scraps, as well all spent vege' plants get tucked under where they once grew. so healthy plants and healthy food and not a bit of smoke to pollute.
someone commented if people aren't using electric cars then we have a giant carbon foot print i say those that sue those cars and support slash and burn have a bigger carbon foot print, and for what it is worth CO2 is heavier than air so how does it get to be the prime culprit in polluting the upper atmosphere, when methane and gases from burning are maybe the real culprits.
no scientific theories please i am scientific theorised to the hilt, lets deal in fact something science cannot do. the fact is terra preta slash and burn is not necessary whatsoever, if you happen to have ash from a home fire then by all means put it in the garden. we try to build proper homes that need no warming or cooling we use passive energy.
the meaning of theory does not change because science uses, it is still unprovable conjecture and hypothesis.
simple rule if it doesn't make sense and stand alone under the common sense rule of thumb then it is a con'.
yes a very high price joel and others, decimation of habitat forest and creating deserts over time, massive erosion wind and rain, massive sun damage to unprotected soils, removal of habitat accentuating a climate change hypothasy yes removing habitat change climate, makes it hotter, colder, wetter (if you are lucky) and mostly drier, regular seasons no longer persist, then science hops on the band wagon to make a whip for our backs.
science supports the falacy of planting windmills and solar farms and solar panels on rooves as an answer that is not going to be the case even now those who support that premise are discovering that manufacturing these things right from mining has a huge footprint and there is only scientific conjecture that a process is carbon neutral no such thing once carbon is created it is out there, and we need trees to suck it up taxes will not suck it up. just like battery cars a feel good falacy.
i got nothing to sell only applying common sense and hans christian anderson's tale "the emporer's new clothes" that is the type of con all this slash and burn and climate change stuff is.
Here is a link that might be useful: lens emporers new clothes
I'm wondering why nobody mentioned the shards of pottery... or was it mentioned, and I missed it?
In the authentic terra pretta, (that some people attempt to duplicate now) there are shards of pottery intermingled into the soil. Last I heard (its been years) nobody seemed to know why the pottery shards were there, but was believed to be a factor that contributed to the unique microbiology of that soil. (producing organic material at a rate that exceeds the rate it can be utilized, etc.)
Now, everyone is trying to make the biochar, but nobody is talking about the pottery thats found in the real terra pretta... found consistently there in layers of soil, 6, 12 feet thick. Just wondering why? Did science decide the pottery isn't a factor? Does anyone know how/why the pottery was buried with the charcoal in the first place? Because last I'd heard, they still didn't know. And they'd never sucessfully recreated terra pretta either. Maybe that's changed since then...if so, I haven't heard, but I've always been more curious about the pottery than the charcoal being there...
From what I have gathered today's biochar is like no-till garden in that it has draw backs, but is a work in progress.
science is a power unto itself, never full on honest, the more who worship it so the grander they get in self opinionated. like the emporer's new clothes they work in a world of theoretical make believe, just like they did around oh! i dunno 800 years ago when they pleaded with chris' columbas not to sail off the edge of the flat world we live in.
just like then they are still closed minded, but lucky for us chris columbas had read the bible or at the very least had heard so in support of the bible from the muslims who knew that the world was not flat.
no till gardening is not a work in progress it works we have used it for over a decade now, no theory in it just growing naturally as nature does, no bodgey science needed, best bit we who have come to a simpler system have nothing to sell no glory to make our heads swell.
where would we be if columbas didn't go discover just sat in the bar?
Concerning pottery shards....Sir Albert Howard mentioned them in this link...one half way down the page under "The Use Of Potsherds In Green Manuring."
Here is a link that might be useful: Use of Shards
Science like religion filled with opinionated people, they all can not be right.Like this tread most are partly right, but no one see the whole picture clearly.
There are draw backs to No-till, but that is for another thread.
If we didn't have science, we'd have to invent it tomorrow. With all its flaws brought about by imperfect humans, the scientific method is still the tool that brought us out of darkness. It is only a tool and must be used properly, with an open mind, and this is done daily by many scientists. If we fail in this, it is not the fault of science, but of its human practitioners.
Science is experimenting and observing the results. No till agriculture is catching on because 1) researchers observed long term negative effects on soil and crops related to tilling, and 2) tests were done and results observed that showed no-till worked better. How is that not science?
Science should enlighten. I am afraid if this anti-science trend keeps up we will end up back in the Dark Ages again.
I don't think we will be back in the Dark ages from lack of science, but if anything, because of science...think nuclear bombs.
I think you'll find that a number of the top scientists who worked on the development of the Bomb were strongly anti-war and pro-arms-control. Einstein and Oppenheimer come to mind.
But that's beside the point. Let's not forget, scientists don't launch missiles, generals and politicians do.
toxcrusadr, every 10 year old knows about the "dust bowl".
But small farms have found that proper tilling in compost can help poor & hard soil. Tilling kills over wintering bad bugs up to 90% in some studies.
It is not anti-science to disagree with what one calls facts, but has not proven it to another. You could be 100% right 100% of the time , but you will be the first man I have met if you are.
The main problem with science/tists is that too many get so in love with themselves, they start to think-- If I can not do it it cannot be done, or-- my results are positive; therefore this is good for every one- every where.
The lab rats experiments to me are the most asine of all with obervations such as- I fed this rat the equivalent of five gallons of x day for a year- it got cancer-therefore x causes cancer.
I would love to take one of those scientists and put it through the regime they use on animals and see how long it would take before they started crying- this is unrealistic and has nothing to do with the natural process.
It proves nothing.
RpR, some studies do bare fruit, but most of the rat test are unreal.
I think it was 35 or so year ago,I was still home with mother.
The study feed rats a crunchy cold breakfast food.The rats started to eat each other for food.We got this treat once a week instead of grits, got vegetables at every meal & ate what was put on the table.
LOL, rpr doesn't know any scientists, but he sure knows what their main problem is
I know a few, they seem to be great people, but must folk are.
It is true that toxicity studies are often done at levels higher than an expected typical dose. However, they're done at various dosing levels, and a curve is established to predict an effects threshold level or dose. By definition, you can't find that level directly and experimentally. Toxicity is a matter of dose, it's not 'this is toxic and that is not.'
There are ethical issues with doing such tests on humans, which is why almost all of the data is from rats, rabbits and guinea pigs, except for lead, which so many people are exposed to that there is a good body of human data.
It is not a perfect system, but it is the best we have at this point in history. I'm not fond of poisoning animals in the name of protecting human health and the environment, and I hope we find something better.
It beats not doing anything and letting industry put whatever it wants on the market with no rules. I suspect the planet would be way worse off.
If you have informed opinions and suggestions for improving the science, by all means make them. But an awful lot of good smart people are already trying to do the same.
i dunno 800 years ago when they pleaded with chris' columbas not to sail off the edge of the flat world we live in.
My best class in high school and college was science, or biology as it is called.
I knew plenty of well educated people.
Not all fit the degree as I said, I said TOO MANY.
Way back in the late eighties the Scientific American ran an article, this was before that magazine became another politically biased rag, on what happened to scientists who buck the concensus opinion regardless of the fact they were eventually proved corrrect.
They were ostracized and when their FACT was proven to be true, they were still ostracized from thier chosen field forever.
For those of you with back copies, look it up.
piedmontnc, You know the world is not flat?
We are not the center of the universe.
And we are not alone.
And bio-char can not hurt the plant anymore then BBQ grills do.
RpR, I agree that syndrome is true and has been ever since Galileo. I was just reading about the high sugar diet of Americans and its effects on metabolism (metabolic syndrome) and the fact that two well known rival researchers had a to-do more than 20 years ago about this. One was basically discredited by the other, but turned out to be right. Unfortunately no one listened to his opinions for many years because of what the mudslinging did to his reputation.
Sadly, scientists are, after all, as human as the rest of us, with all that goes along with it.
These are great posts except for Tox's comment right after my post. Seriously, Tox.. were you not paying attention to the Kyoto Project? Doncha know the answer to global warming or climate change is to send our tax dollars to corrupt African officials never to be seen by the poor there and to regulate our uses? That Project failed, btw. Seriously, "a tin foil hat" label does not apply here. One need not be a rocket scientist to put the facts together.
I agree with LesIsMore1 completely. Most haven't the faintest clue what sustainability actually means, implies or includes. They're stuck on thinking and theorizing until they can actually spend sustain personal exertion creating that cycle of life called sustainable living or "permaculture". I do. Yet, most cannot for geographical location - a disadvantage Les and I do not have as well as a few others.
Still, these were great reads.
How are you and Les only not disadvantaged, exactly?
"Doncha know the answer to global warming or climate change is to send our tax dollars to corrupt African officials..."
If this kind of attitude prevails, we are in big trouble.
Now I am confused?
Not that it matters, but I though our tax dollars went to corrupt American Officials.
They wasted & stole the money instead of using it to improve the economy & the Green Industrie.
They should all be jailed with Burney M.
maybe think out side the box they have you in the tax dollars may not go there directly but i bet they do indirectly.
look out for the coming of a one world currency
take care gain wisdom from the truth of our roots.
Come on people! This is not a political forum. We're talking about charcoal as a soil amendment.
Maybe think outside the charcoal they have you in. The organic matter may not go there directly but i bet they amend indirectly.
Look out for the coming of a biochar soil.
Take greens and browns and gain compost from the refuse of our roots.
There. That, I believe, does it.
Well said gargwarb.
tox, what dose sugar diet & scientists are human have to do with Bio-Char.
Hey, I'm not on a high horse here, just trying to keep it out of the ditch. Anyway, the topic of science was just that, science, which arguably is at the root of this entire thread.
I just thought topics like Kyoto, wasted tax dollars and one-world currency were a bit far afield and not likely to further the cause of soil-building.
I wasn't implying you are. I just thought it would be a bit of fun to re-work a political post to make it more "soily". Sorry if it came off wrong.
(When I post I just get myself in trouble)
as there are more sustainable ways of soil building than slash and burn technology with a fancy name backed by self interest science.
I love making good soil and raising healthy plants. I believe in a level of sustainability, but it seems that the fanatical tend to hi-jack green movements and get it very political.
No worries here, mates.
Len, you might be right about that on a large scale in the Amazon rain forest or similar places. OTOH it could be argued that backyard use is a whole different thing. But I may be repeating earlier points, I haven't read the whole thread recently.
I do know I have 10 gal of 1/4" charcoal sifted from last winter's woodstove ash, and I'm definitely going to use it.
Charcoal is good for filtering bad stuff from the soil.
On a side note, its called climate change and its a natural thing. Our planet has been warming and cooling since the dawn of time. Just this year we have broke more records of heat then any other since we started keeping records. And just because there is still snow does not mean "global warming" is not real. Man didnt create global warming, god did. Man just accelerated it. Ice ages come every 12,000 years remember? Gets reeeal hot right before an ice age. So dont dis regard global warming just because you can still see snow and cool weather around. Its normal. Its been happening for thousands of years. This is nothing new, its happened before.
yes God's climate change is real, the scientific one is fake, we make things worse and keep in mind we do not have any position to influence the destruction of habitat forests for housing industry and agriculture and just for the sheer hell of it to turn trees 200 or so years old trees into pulp or chip.
if someone generated ash/char from a wood burning stove or heating appliance then the bi product should be used in the garden, so long as it comes from burning timber only maybe?
garenlen you keep talking up God & down on science.
You must known knowledge is good & God made the minds of all great men. What different does it make were the fuel comes from, the carbon feet print is the same.
Your polities do not make it okay or wrong.
"the scientific one is fake"
Even though without science, IOW, without geologists who observed and questioned, we wouldn't know about "god's climate change"?
our observations and our belief tell us that all that happens about this planet which is home is done by God's hand, we need not any men who can feed us false doctrine on this matter.
we don't need any of those sciences, for me it matters not that gravity is what is identified as holding us onto the planet so we down here don't drop off, it is God's work at work.
yes the sciences are at the very least fake and possibly worse. like one person said how can we trust these climate change scientists to be making the right theory when we can little trust the medical sciences for our health. for us God delivers.
God bless my friend
Not much point in arguing this one any further.
AMEN, brother toxcrusadr.
The climate is changing, whether it is god's work or not. Anecdotal observations are now able to perceive it the pace of change is so great. It's possible that climate change is simply another of god's intentional disasters, like the flood.
well put pnbrown,
but may fall on deaf ears in this secular world.
-deleted- nevermind...this is a 1.5 year old thread dug up for advertising's sake and it seems to be a weirdly toxic thread that deserves to die anyway...even though there's some good stuff in between the toxic and weirdness.
Biochar has limited uses in the garden (mostly structure uses, which can be done better in many soils) and it's value...like too many things considered "historic agriculture"...is occasionally widely overblown, especially considering it's pH and potassium load.
This post was edited by nc-crn on Sun, Jan 12, 14 at 16:14
LOL.....I add bio-char because I don't want to haul my fire pit soot anywhere else..I mix it into the leaves I roto till into my garden every September and I don't know if it helps or not. It looks like dirt and I have great gardens. I don't ph test I just add stuff that rots and 10 lbs of what ever lawn fertilizer is in the shop and I have great gardens...Our ancestors 100 years ago could barley read and they did just fine. Its gardening not rocket science.
have a great day