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Growing plants with charcoal
Richard Haard, Fourth Corner Nurseries, Bellingham, WA, June 27, 2007

Select image to enlarge
This is an image of our charcoal as soil additive study at our nursery. Shown is one of our test subjects a local native shrub that we propagate and sell for riparian restoration projects. Black Twinberry, Lonicera involucrata. This plant was a 2 year old seedling, bareroot harvested and stems clipped to 6 inches before planting in the test bed 7 weeks ago.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1344/634886240_78b8dc7032_o.jpg

and our set of images on the 4CN charcoal project

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rchaard/sets/72157594444994347/

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Azotobacter Question and Answer June 2007
Richard Haard, Four Courner Nursery, Bellingham, Washington, June 11, 2007

Question by Sean Barry:
RH ". . .Learning about potential for enrichment culture of Azotobacter and trying to measure available nitrogen in this situation."

Here you mention promoting the growth of nitrogen fixing Azotobacter. I have always been interested in the possibility of inoculating charcoal with mycorrhizal fungi.

Do you think it might be possible that you could isolate, culture, and propogate enough of both types of microorganism species from the soil in your area, then enrich or inoculate charcoal with it, and put that charcoal into plant growth trials? I have seen some FDA ARS (Agricultural Research Service) documentation about developed and patented methods to do this (propogate soil fungi) kind of thing. The charcoal you have on the forest floor with the litter (I believe I've seen this picture); is it incorporated into the soil containing the fungus? Or just on top with the litter? Are there any plants growing in it? Are there also Azotobacter in that soil (along with the mycorrhizal fungi) ?

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Charcoal Experimental Plots
Rich Haard and Larry Williams at Fourth Corner Nurseries, Bellingham, Washington, May 6, 2007
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Making charcoal at 4CN for our experimental study.
Richard Haard, Larry Williams, Fourth Corner Nursery (4CN), Bellingham, WA April 13, 2007
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Charcoal Making
Rich Haard, Fourth Corner Nursery, Bellingham , Washington, March 31, 2007

Terrapreta interest group

Here is a set of images about our charcoal making project this weekend. It is a smothered pit method, first time for myself . We did open the lower end of the pit after 5 hours and take out about 40 gallons , then we put the unburned wood back in and recovered. We will be looking at it again in about 18 hours.

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Learning to use wood charcoal in farming at a Northwestern Washington native plant nursery.
Richard Haard, Fourth Corner Nurseries, Washington, Febuary 20, 2007
My motivation for preparing this post is to be able to use this motivate discussion of charcoal as a soil additive. Trying to do this work at a very busy nursery that is perhaps pushing their production factor too high (over 80%) is rather frustrating as experiments have gotten over ruled by planning changes, wiped out by harvest before I can read the data and the conditions set up for the experiment just do not work. However, I have been encouraged however and I am now using hardwood charcoal as a carrier for natural inocculum as a matter of routine.
Fourth Corner Nurseries is a wholesale supplier of native plant species, located on 77 acres in the coastal lowlands of northwestern Washington, USA. With approximately 40 acres under cultivation, we produce two/three million direct-seeded, field-grown, bare-root native plants annually. Our principal crop is individually seed-sourced, bare-root deciduous trees and shrubs, herbaceous perennials, grasses and emergent species such as sedges, cattails and rushes for environmental restoration purposes. Our mission is to sustainably grow plants while supporting workers and their families who depend on the farm for their economic subsistence. Use of surplus biomass from our willow coppice field and other materials is our alternative energy vision.
Aerial view of our farm

Aerial View of Fourth Corner Nurseries

Aerial View of Fourth Corner Nurseries
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Richard Haard: Affinity of fungi and crop plant roots to charcoal
Richard Haard, February 12, 2007

The image below illustrates the affinity of fungi and crop plant roots to charcoal.

Charcoal placed in a fertile garden for a few months showing how crop roots (Swiss chard) and fungi are attached to this medium as habitat
Charcoal placed in a fertile garden for a few months showing how crop roots (Swiss chard) and fungi are attached to this medium as habitat
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Literature reports this property for activated charcoal. This is a simple screening test to demonstrate adsorbtion capacity in 'home made' biochar. I used mustard seed, which has rapid growth. Radish should also work fine.

Go to here for original image in high resolution (click original size) to view this up close

Third Year Four Corners Nursery.

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