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Terra Preta.

Don`t know if anyone here has done anything along the lines of Terra Preta, if so I would appreciate your input. I am sifting and saving all of ashes and charcoal from the woodstoves in the house and shop and should have enough charcoal for a 4ft x 12ft. bed or two as well as for mixing with our starting soil in the greenhouse this next spring. From the research I`ve done it looks pretty interesting as a soil ammendment. Will post results during this next season.
There is a lot of info online about this subject if anyones interest is peaked.
I have for a while now used wood ash in our compost piles as well as some directly on our beds as we have soil that is a bit acidic. It also adds potash and some micro minerals to the soil but this next season will the first for the charcoal.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

cynthia_h
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There is one rather extended thread where terra preta was discussed:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17786

"Greens and Browns," in Composting.

Maybe there's some information in there that will be helpful for you, but it sure seems like you have tons of experience already! :D

I found the thread using Search and didn't read through it; I can't remember whether there were links to outside articles or not, but maybe those links (if they're there) will be useful.

Cynthia

MysticGardener67
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Terra Preta is now in vogue again

except now it is called "biochar" It is being considered as a method to sequester atmpshperic carbon. The idea is to take high carbon biomass, like straw, wood, ect, heat it in a sealed retort, drive off all the volitle gasses which are condensed into liquid fuels like methanol and the resulting charcol (CHAR) worked back into the soil.

[url]https://www.biochar.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=6&Itemid=7[/url]

"everything old is new again"

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biochar.

If the charcoal does what it is reputed to do I have plans to build the setup to mass produce. This setup is called a retort.
The info online goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. From saying it does little to saying it can increase yields by 3 to 5 times over standard organic methods. I suspect the results will be somewhere between these extremes.
The one statement made that makes a lot of sense to me is that the charcoal acts as a storage for nutrients as well as water. Which are then accessible to plant roots.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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soil
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you don't want ashes, you want charcoal. preferably made in an oxygen free environment. you could get a metal can from soup or paint or what not fill it with material and toss that in your wood stove. take it out later and youll have biochar. soak in a solution of something like Fish hydrolysate then amend in your soil.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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biochar.

In reply to Soil; The retort setup does not produce ash as it is non oxygen atmosphere. I do however also use ash on my garden beds and some in our compost piles as it tends to sweeten acid soils, which we have here.
The retort setup I am considering is built from a 55 gallon barrel in which the wood is sealed and has plumbing built into it which vents the gases to the underside of the loaded barrel. You build a fire under the barrel to get it started and once the heat begins driving off the gases it burns these to finish the charcoal making process.
We have 31- 4ft. x 12ft. boxed raised beds as well as about 3000 sq. ft. of flat ground that we garden so if the biochar works as well as I hope it does on the experimental beds we will need a lot of it.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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rainbowgardener
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It's why I love this place; I keep learning new stuff all the time. I had never heard of terra preta.

Wiki has a nice introductory article about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta

"Terra preta is characterized by the presence of low-temperature charcoal in high concentrations; of high quantities of pottery sherds; of organic matter such as plant residues, animal feces, fish and animal bones and other material; and of nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn).[3] It also shows high levels of microorganic activities and other specific characteristics within its particular ecosystem. It is less prone to nutrient leaching, which is a major problem in most rainforest soils. "

It was made by humans up to 2500 years ago... those ancient folks knew some things we have forgotten!

MysticGardener67
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Ya know, it is funny

not in a LOL way but a "go figgure" way.

Just last week , after having listened to a rather repetitive debate on carbon sequetration ideas, I started thinking ...."hmmmm"...trees are mostly carbon. They are really good at scrubbing CO2 and locking it up in thier chemistry. What if we farmed vast acerages of trees, harvested them and somehow sunk them into the depths of the oceans or dumped them into landfills?

Two nights later, I ran acros an online article on BioChar. Hmmm.. go figgure.


I used to have hard time in public restrooms that offer both paper towels and electric hand driers.
I don't want to contribute to deforestation, buit I don't want to add to the CO2 issue.
Now I just dry my hands with my shirtail

erich
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Biochar Developments Update

I thought these update on developments of biochar soils may interest
you, I'm a biochar advocate, and would like to share my efforts in research, policy and industry.(bellow)

Hope to see you at ISU for the 2010 USBiochar Conference

Dr. Robert Brown <rcbrown@iastate.edu>, and the team in Ames Iowa are planing the next national biochar conference. The Conference will be June 27-30 in Ames Iowa Hosted by Iowa State University. The Call for papers; https://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/biochar/home.html

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.
He recently received the Manchester prize.

Thanks for your efforts.
Erich

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.

Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth, TP), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!
Modern Pyrolysis of biomass is a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 80%-90% Lower Methane & N2O soil emissions, and 2X Fertility Too.
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.

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.


Legislation:
Senator Baucus is co-sponsoring a bill along with Senator Tester (D-MT) called WE CHAR. Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration Act! It focuses on promoting biochar technology to address invasive species and forest biomass. It includes grants and loans for biochar market research and development, biochar characterization and environmental analyses. It directs USDI and USDA to provide loan guarantees for biochar technologies and on-the-ground production with an emphasis on biomass from public lands. And the USGS is to do biomas availability assessments.
WashingtonWatch.com - S. 1713, The Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration (WECHAR) Act of 2009

Individual and groups can show support for WECHAR by signing online at:
https://www.biocharmatters.org/

The Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009
The bill is designed to ensure that any US domestic cap-and-trade bill provides maximum incentives and opportunities for the US agricultural and forestry sectors to provide high-quality offsets and GHG emissions reductions for credit or financial incentives. Carbon offsets play a critical role in keeping the costs of a cap-and-trade program low for society as well as for capped sectors and entities, while providing valuable emissions reductions and income generation opportunities for the agricultural sector. The bill specifically identifies biochar production and use as eligible for offset credits, and identifies biochar as a high priority for USDA R&D, with funding authorized by the bill.
To read the full text of the bill, go to:
https://www.biochar-international.org/sites/default/files/END09F94.pdf.

Major Endorsements:

Senator / Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has done the most to nurse this biofuels system in his Biochar provisions in the 07 & 08 farm bill,
https://www.biochar-international.org/newinformationevents/newlegislation.html

NASA's Dr. James Hansen Global warming solutions paper places Biochar / Land management the central technology for carbon negative energy systems.
https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf

Dr. James Lovelock (Gaia hypothesis) says Biochar is "The only hope for mankind"

Charles Mann ("1491") in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage.
https://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/09/soil/mann-text

Al Gore got the CO2 absorption thing wrong, ( at NABC Vilsack did same), but his focus on Soil Carbon is right on;
https://www.newsweek.com/id/220552/page/3

Tony Blair & Richard Branson in the UK and conservative party opposition leader John Turnbull in Oz.


Another significant aspect of bichar and aerosols are the low cost ($3) Biomass cook stoves that produce char but no respiratory disease. https://terrapretapot.org/ and village level systems https://biocharfund.org/ with the Congo Basin Forest
Fund (CBFF). The Biochar Fund recently won $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 broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the root ball size of the Biochar corn )
https://biocharfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=55&Itemid=75



Building Soil Carbon is the bond that unities all political persuasions,


Soil Carbon Sequestration Standards Committee. Hosted by Monsanto, this group of diverse interests has been hammering out issues of definition, validation and protocol. These past months, this group have been pressing soil sequestration's roll for climate legislation to congress.
https://www.novecta.com/documents/Carbon-Standard.pdf

Along these lines internationally, the work of the IBI fostering the application by 20 countries for UN recognition of soil carbon as a sink with biochar as a clean development mechanism will open the door for programs across the globe.
https://www.biochar-international.org/biocharpolicy.html.



Research:

The Ozzie's for 5 years now in field studies
The future of biochar - Project Rainbow Bee Eater
https://www.sciencealert.com.au/features/20090211-20142.html

The Japanese have been at it dacades:
Japan Biochar Association ;
https://www.geocities.jp/yasizato/pioneer.htm

UK Biochar Research Centre
https://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/sccs/biochar/


Virginia Tech is in their 4 th year with the Carbon Char Group's "CharGrow" formulated bagged product. An idea whose time has come | Carbon Char Group
He said the 2008 trials at Virginia Tech showed a 46% increase in yield of tomato transplants grown with just 2 - 5 cups (2 - 5%) "CharGrow" per cubic foot of growing medium. https://www.carbonchar.com/plant-performance

Dr. Rory Maguire, at VT
In first year with Poultry litter char

USDA in their 2 nd year; "Novak, Jeff" <Jeff.Novak@ars.usda.gov>, & "david laird" <david.laird@ars.usda.gov>,
There are dozens soil researchers on the subject now at USDA-ARS.
and many studies at The up coming ASA-CSSA-SSSA joint meeting;
https://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2009am/webprogram/Session5675.html

Nikolaus has been at it 4 years. Nikolaus Foidl,
His current work with aspirin is Amazing in Maize, 250% yield gains, 15 cobs per plant;
https://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/content/trials-maize-reactivating-dormant-genes-using-high-doses-salicylic-acid-and-charcoal

My 09 field trials with the Rodale Institute & JMU ;
Alterna Biocarbon and Cowboy Charcoal Virginia field trials '09 https://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/1408

Most recent studies out;
Imperial College test,
This work in temperate soils gives data from which one can calculate savings on fertilizer use, which is expected to be ongoing with no additional soil amending.

https://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1755-1315/6/37/372052/ees9_6_372052.pdf?request-id=22fb1902-1c23-4db8-8801-2be7e2f3ce1b


The BlueLeaf Inc./ Dynamotive study are exciting results given how far north the site is,and the low application rates. I suspect, as we saw with the Imperial College test, the yield benefits seem to decrease the cooler the climate.
The study showed infiltration rates for moisture are almost double. The lower leaf temperatures puzzles me however, I thought around 21C was optimum for photosynthesis.

BlueLeaf Inc. and Dynamotive Announce Biochar Test Results CQuest(TM) Biochar Enriched Plots Yield Crop Increase Ranging From Six to Seventeen Percent vs. Control Plots
https://www.usetdas.com/TDAS/NewsArticle.aspx?NewsID=13603

The full study at Dynomotives site;
https://www.dynamotive.com/wp-content/themes/dynamotive/pdf/BlueLeaf_Biochar_Field_Trial_2008.pdf




Reports:

This PNAS report (by a Nobel lariat) should cause the Royal Society to rethink their report that criticized Biochar systems sequestration potential;
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Reducing abrupt climate change risk using
the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory
actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions
https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/09/0902568106.full.pdf+html

United Nations Environment Programme, Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 https://www.unep.org/compendium2009/PDF/Ch5_compendium2009.pdf

Congressional Research Service report (by analyst Kelsi Bracmort) is the best short summary I have seen so far - both technical and policy oriented.
https://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R40186_20090203.pdf .

This is the single most comprehensive report to date, covering more of the Asian and Australian work;
https://www.csiro.au/files/files/poei.pdf

Dr. Scherr's report includes biochar. https://www.worldwatch.org/node/6124

I think we will be seeing much greater media attention for land management & biochar as reports like her's come out linking the roll of agriculture and climate.




Biochar data base;
TP-REPP
https://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=node

Disscusion Groups;
The group home page location, General orientation:
Biochar (https://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar/
Biochar POLICY;
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar-policy
Biochar Soils;
https://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar-soils/
Biochar Production;
https://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar-production/

Earth Science Terra Preta Forum, Great for students;
Terra Preta - Science Forums



Given the current "Crisis" atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?

This is a Nano technology for the soil, a fractal vision of Life's relation to surface area that represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.
Cheers,
Erich


Erich J. Knight
Eco Technologies 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






The first North American Biochar Conference, at CU in Boulder ,
Keynote speakers were Secretary Tom Vilsack & Dr. Susan Solomon (NOAA's head atmospheric scientist)
https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?eventid=684390

My attendance is thanks to the folks at EcoTechnologies Group .
https://www.ecotechnologies.com/index.html , they have also fully funded my field trials with the Rodale Institute & JMU)

There is real magic coming out of the Asian Biochar conference.
15 ear per stalk corn with 250% yield increase,
Sacred Trees and chickens raised from near death
Multiple confirmations of 80% - 90% reduction of soil GHG emissions
The abstracts of the conference are at
https://www.anzbiochar.org/AP%20BioChar%20Conference-may09.pdf



Biochar Studies at the 08 ACS Huston meeting;

Most all this work corroborates char soil dynamics we have seen so far . The soil GHG emissions work showing increased CO2 , also speculates that this CO2 has to get through the hungry plants above before becoming a GHG.
The SOM, MYC& Microbes, N2O (soil structure), CH4 , nutrient holding , Nitrogen shock, humic compound conditioning, absorbing of herbicides all pretty much what we expected to hear.

578-I: https://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2008am/webprogram/Session4231.html

579-II https://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2008am/webprogram/Session4496.html

665 - III. https://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2008am/webprogram/Session4497.html

666-IV https://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2008am/webprogram/Session4498.html


Company News & EU Certification


Below is an important hurtle that 3R AGROCARBON has overcome in certification in the EU. Given that their standards are set much higher than even organic certification in the US, this work should smooth any bureaucratic hurtles we may face.

EU Permit Authority - 4 years tests
Subject: Fwd: [biochar] Re: GOOD NEWS: EU Permit Authority - 4 years tests successfully completed

Doses: 400 kg / ha – 1000 kg / ha at different horticultural cultivars

Plant height Increase 141 % versus control
Picking yield Increase 630 % versus control
Picking fruit Increase 650 % versus control
Total yield Increase 202 % versus control
Total piece of fruit Increase 171 % versus control
Fruit weight Increase 118 % versus control

HOMEPAGE 3R AGROCARBON: https://www.3ragrocarbon.com


Low Tech Clean Biochar;
https://holon.se/folke/carbon/simplechar/simplechar.shtml
Erich J. Knight

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rainbowgardener
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Okay, I confess to ignorance. I only recently started hearing about biochar and only yesterday learned about it's earlier version as Terra Preta. I read a lot of the above post and I read the stuff at the last link:


Low Tech Clean Biochar;
https://holon.se/folke/carbon/simplechar/simplechar.shtml

It leaves me confused how this process would be helping our current world situation. In the link it shows taking your biomass and turning it to biochar by burning a wood fire around it for 30-40 min. So they are releasing a huge amount of carbon and various pollutants with the fire (they specified cook over the fire, so the energy isn't totally wasted, but that doesn't change what is released into the air). And they are cutting down forests to provide the wood for the fire. I mean if a few people here and there do it, maybe not so bad, but if any there's any large scale adaptation of this, it seems like we are just deciding to burn up our temperate forests at the same rate we are currently decimating the rain forest. Whatever soil fertility this ultimately adds, I can't really see this as a good thing.

I'm adding soil fertility and carbon to my soil all the time with compost, piles of fall leaves, etc, without burning anything.

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Biochar.

Thank you very much Eric. Some of this material I have seen but a lot of it is new to me. I must say it looks like the addition of bichar to our gardening schedule is on it`s way. We grow our garden for sustanance and this could well be the way to add a lot more harvest to our growing area. We have about 8500 sq. ft. in cultivation and have been limited to the amount of crops available. Hopefully we can get to the point of adding more crops in less area.
Again thank you for this information.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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Name.

Woops, just noticed I had mispelled the name sorry Erich.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

erich
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Modern Closed-Loop Systems

Dear Rainbow,
Modern Pyrolysis units are closed-loop and utilize the exothermic pyrolysis reaction for combined heat & power (CHP). The only CO2 they emit is when the gas & oil are combusted for exported electric energy. One third of the biomass feedstock is NOT combusted. Please see;

https://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/company

Folke Gunther's simple 2-can retort is an emission clean way (except for CO2) for home gardeners. His retort properly flairs the methane and products of incomplete combustion.

Hope this helps,

Erich
Erich J. Knight

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CO2

CO2 is not the problem it is purported to be. Think about this. All plants need CO2, they take it in and give back oxygen. If you want the plants in your greenhouse to really take off, pump CO2 into it and watch them go.

https://www.advancegreenhouses.com/use_of_co2_in_a_greenhouse.htm
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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rainbowgardener
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erich, even if you do your burning in a clean way to reduce emissions, you are still cutting down forests to provide wood for all this burning...

mystic-g yes CO2 is necessary for plants and yes up to a certain extent you can increase productivity by increasing CO2 levels. However, there is no doubt that CO2 in the atmosphere is one of the main contributors (along with methane and other "greenhouse gasses") to global warming. There is tons of science to support this. And global warming is not generally good for plants, although of course different plants respond differently and the variables are complex.

Here's one nice article, that demonstrates that
"elevated carbon dioxide only stimulated plant growth when nitrogen, water and temperature were kept at normal levels." In the presence of increased heat, water, nitrogen fixation, (that is the conditions that prevail under global warming), increased CO2 suppressed growth.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021206075233.htm
OR https://news.stanford.edu/news/2002/december11/jasperplots-124.html -- another report of the same experiment.

Also these folks https://www.kansan.com/news/2007/nov/16/science/?news found that increased CO2 in the atmosphere caused (some) plants to flower later (which would slow down production).

It is a very complex question, depending on variables of temperature, moisture, ozone, availability of nitrogen etc. This article discusses some of these variables:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11655-climate-myths-higher-co2-levels-will-boost-plant-growth-and-food-production.html

(note the title about climate myths). Here's their conclusion:

What's more, even if plant growth does rise overall, the direct and indirect effects of higher CO2 levels will be disastrous for biodiversity. Between 20 to 30% of plant and animal species face extinction by the end of the century, according to the IPCC report.

As for food crops, the factors are more complex. The crops most widely used in the world for food in many cases depend on particular combinations of soil type, climate, moisture, weather patterns and the infrastructure of equipment, experience and distribution systems. If the climate warms so much that crops no longer thrive in their traditional settings, farming of some crops may be able to shift to adjacent areas, but others may not. Rich farmers and countries will be able to adapt more easily than poorer ones.

Predicting the world's overall changes in food production in response to elevated CO2 is virtually impossible. Global production is expected to rise until the increase in local average temperatures exceeds 3°C, but then start to fall. In tropical and dry regions increases of just 1 to 2°C are expected to lead to falls in production. In marginal lands where water is the greatest constraint, which includes much of the developing world but also regions such as the western US, the losses may greatly exceed the gains.

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soil
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i am familiar with what you are building, i was just making sure. your first post said i am saving the ashes, when making char there should be NO ashes. i was just being cautious and letting you know.

i have been doing terra preta soil for 5 years now. and the results are amazing, but i have seen people screw it up.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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Terra Preta.

Soil, any pointers you can give me would be greatly appreciated. :D I`ve done quite a bit of research but hands on knowledge like your`s can`t be beat.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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soil
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#1 thing with terra preta is patience. and a very healthy microbial community.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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Biochar.

Well I have patience Soil and a pretty good start on the microbes from a lot of good healthy compost. BTW. the ash comes from our heating stoves in the house and my workshop. I save it and sift out the charcoal and was using it in my forge for blacksmithing but will now be putting it in the garden as well as building the retort. Are you using hard or softwood charcoal?
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

MysticGardener67
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ooh! Blacksmithing!

Cool! you can build a retort OLD SCHOOL! Wicked! And never have to buy a garden tool EVER! :lol: Good job!

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Some of the retorts I have seen are a little [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEGmP6dhW5c&feature=related]TOO old school[/url]... this method lets the CO2 and methane from the heating fire escape; not good. Methane is 21 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than CO2, and when this guy is talking about "thick black gasses" coming out of his barrel, he is talking about methane, long chain carbons, particulate matter, in short, some of the worst air pollutants out there. NOT green thinking here at all... "sequestering carbon from the air" he says. I think not! Not as much as he dumped up the chimney already, anyway... :roll: Here's [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZv8jKo_ixk&feature=related]another homemade version[/url]; note the "smoke" occasionally flaming; there's your methane escaping....

THIS is the best practice I have found to date; [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omvLK-rksRA&feature=related]The Adams retort[/url]. Note the lack of escaping gasses and smoke. Here's a [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEGmP6dhW5c&feature=related]demonstration of a like system[/url]for home use. THIS is how we do it, baby... the commercial places don't waste that methane either; back in the burn... these [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMUmby8PpU&feature=related]double barrel type burners[/url]can be nearly as efficient as Adams retorts...

A fine example of how homemade can do more damage than not doing it at all if you aren't completely up to speed... get the right idea to start, because there are plenty of bad ones out there, too... biochar is a good idea ONLY when it is well done...

HG
Scott Reil

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stella1751
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Fascinating thread, people; thanks! I watched several videos yesterday, a good learning experience. One of the videos mentioned simply burning wood to the charcoal stage and then dousing it with water. I might want to experiment with this in one bed next year.
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MysticGardener67
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only problem with the "wet wood' method

Burning the wood then dousing with water, is that you will also be dousing ashes with water.. This produces Lye (Sodium Hydroxide), a substance that is very alkeline in nature. This might cause PH issues when sing the char produced this way and it will absolutely effect the ph of the soil around the area of production.

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soil
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Are you using hard or softwood charcoal?
i am actually making it from all around waste from our property/garden. from the garden its mostly chicken manure and the usual garden scraps and stuff from pruning. as well as trees that fell over and the small branches fed through a chipper then charred. id say the best stuff is the charred chicken manure. just let it dry out good before making it. comes out with no need to smash. then the char goes into the compost piles. then into the garden.

but to answer your question, the trees are oak.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

top_dollar_bread
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here's a link that may help
[url]https://myblog.michaelpbyron.com/2008/08/21/making-terra-preta-soil-ramonas-recipe-for-homemade-dirt.aspx?results=1#SurveyResultsChart[/url]
i have always wanted to make my own charcoal out of the endless supply of cow manure we have here...but i want to char it right and not let ghg escape and im not confident i can do that yet...
im going to try composting some cowboy charcoal, with some manure and saw dust, similar to the link i provided on top but im going to crush the charcoal in a pillow case, with my little corolla :lol: ..
im thinking it will turn out pretty well
[url]https://www.cowboycharcoal.com/[/url]

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i want to char it right and not let ghg escape
Well, T$, that's pretty difficult to do. They are working on methods to cool the stack CO2 and feed it to an enclosed algae system (so O2 and a wee bit of moisture would be our exhaust; we can sure live with that :mrgreen: ). But when you burn anything, we are releasing the energy stored in that covalent carbon bonding and so some carbon is going in the atmosphere. You can't burn without carbon, unless you got a nuclear reactor in your pocket. Didn't think so...

That said, it's the methane in the wood that is the real trouble. Burn that off and we reduce tha GHG factor CONSIDERABLY. JUst burn the wood in the open, and you are not doing the planet any favors; driving an SUV looks Ed Begley-friendly when compared to open wood fires.

Enclosed, forced air retorts with a reburn feature (like the Adams or double walled retorts) is the way to go here...

Have used the Cowboy Charcoal as both charcoal and soil amendment and it's great for either. The only real reason I see to add it to compost is to inoculate it, but you could do that easier and quicker with compost tea.

Mashing it flat with a motor vehicle is counter-productive; part of the beauty of charcoal is the honeycombed porosity that provides homes for biologies, and it's much elongated sequestration of carbon in the soil versus just plain wood. Crushing to powder eliminates a great deal of both these benefits; might as well skip the planet-unfriendly burning and just compost at that point...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Scott Reil

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Bioturbation will get it in the End

Particle size is still an open question, IMHO the variety of size, 1/4 inch to dust, obtained by crushing with a vehicle in heavy tarps, is the simplest process.

Photos here;
My 09 field trials with the Rodale Institute & JMU ;
Alterna Biocarbon and Cowboy Charcoal Virginia field trials '09 https://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/node/1408

A full thread on the subject;
https://hypography.com/forums/terra-preta/11635-grinding-biochar-necessary-or-not-2.html

Root & fungi penetration
Frost heave & moisture drainage down worm holes
The bioturbation by the rest of the wee-beasties
all serve in breakdown & mixing, given time very thoroughly.


Almost everything I've ever posted about chars on the formal discussion list;
https://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar/?yguid=122501696

I have also posted at;
https://hypography.com/forums/terra-preta/
Much easier to navigate than the Yahoo forum. Just click on my name and the posts read like a sequential news report since 2006.
Erich J. Knight

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Erich, don't you think that the highly increased surface area from a powdered charcoal is likely to increase the CEC to such a level that it becomes a sink for nutritive elements? Or are you counting on the proper innoculation to counter that? And I still have to believe the powdering will move the carbon back into the atmospheric cycle faster than a big chunk would. But you make good points and I need to study some more...

Nice to see Dr. Mike Amaranthus' name in your study; a pioneer and certainly the leading source for mycorrhizal research. You run in good company Erich...

HG
Scott Reil

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So I was searching government grants for agriculture et. al.

ANd I ran across this grant offered by the Department of forestry titled:
Hazardous Fuels Woody Biomass Utilization Grants

In short, Department of forestry is trying to come up with a way to use the debris generated by the removal of forest fire fuels from the understory and forest floors.

Hmm this would be interesting boost for biochar and its processing.

Oh and If I rember my highschool chemistry clas, the condensate from burning woody materials in a low oxygen envroment genrates methanol and the remaining gasses back into the process.

here is the link:

https://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do;jsessionid=rTDQL6YbpGgNcsJp8Wq1cGCL20h2LPfTQvDls4QhZ7MJq1n2GHhG!-1299818899?oppId=49423&mode=VIEW

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Look's like they are just giving away money to start-up a bio-char company...THAT's my tax dollars going to work in a positive fashion I can live with... :)

Both serious issues though; fuel elimination in older growth is done by fire in Nature, but as we interrupt the fire cycle for safety reasons, we also eliminate the recharge that all that carbon brings. But what if we cleaned up the falls, charred them and then returned them? The best of both worlds there, but the economic model is unclear...

My concern is the person that ends up doing this will simply sell the char, precluding the return of soil building materials back on site. That's WORSE for the forest in the long run than the fires would be; at least they have fertile soil to rebuild with in the fire scenario... and of course you have to use a responsible methodology to make the char too. Otherwise we are just stealing soil from the forest and putting it up a chimney; hardly the greenest idea... forests are hungry things wioth an appetite for soil and you can starve them to death pretty easily by taking away all their food...

You are right mystic, this is a great opportunity. I hope it gets handled well...

HG
Scott Reil

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Farmer Dave
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I am trying terra petra will this work?

I have been trying out the basic concept of Terra Petra which is adding charcoal to my soil. I end up having a lot of brush and fruit tree pruning to burn on our land so I just use the charcoal build up with the ashes. I am doing one section of my garden as I have a large garden so I can ascertain if it is working. Will I be adding the same product as if I used a no oxygen burn barrel?

I have very well drained soil that is a little gravely which is nice to work but leaches nutrients very quickly. As I under stand it the charcoal will help to hold and bind nutrients to the soil. I must say I am a bit to new to this experiment (2 years) to really know but I think it is working to some degree.
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Farmer Dave

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A better product actually, FD Same excellent char structure, less GHGs. Good for soil, good for the atmosphere...

Here's the thing FD you are adding a big cation sink with charcoal. If you do not have a serious biological culture in your soil, one that populates the char and starts weak acid responses to help etch the nutrient back ot of those strong covalent carbon bonds, you can lock up more nutrient than you release to your plants. I think you know where that goes.

Make sure you are using this in conjunction with good active compost, and plenty of it, at the start. Once the char gets populated it will start to self-sustain as you will get the poop looping from the protozoan predation of bacteria, as well as the weak acid releases. But if somebody is just dumping on the ammonia salt, it will likely just sit in their charcoal sponge and wait for biological releases that just aren't coming... :( Nature works best with Nature, and poorly with man made chems...

HG
Scott Reil

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Do you guys grind up the char somehow before adding to the soil?

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Most do; it increases the surface area and that means it hold more nutrition...
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Joyfirst wrote:Do you guys grind up the char somehow before adding to the soil?
Without a grinder, the low tech way would be put it in a bag and pound it with a hammer!

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Or do like T$B and drive on it. I worry that powders it too much, but I have been assured it will not.

I notice we keep talking about the charcoal component, but the true terra preta also included a fired clay introduction. My assumption has been this was a water retention addition, but there would also be some CEC increase. Anybody trying this part of the puzzle?

HG
Scott Reil

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I think it should be mentioned that adding char to your soil does not make terra preta. The terra preta recipe is a long-lost secret unknown even to the indigenous tribes of the amazon. Either European pathogens wiped all that out, or the knowledge was no longer necessary long before that.

That said, heed HG's words.

I am playing around with it myself, by adding it to my worm bins. Another technique I've heard mentioned is to soak it in fertilizer. Something like fish hydrolysate.
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