Cornell University

Sustainable Technology: Biochar
Julie Major, Workshop presented to Sustainable Harvest International,Honduras, January 2008

Reported in La Cosecha (The Harvest), Sustainable Harvest International newsletter, Spring 2008, p. 4.

Black is the New Green: SHI Field Staff Learn the Benefits of Biochar for Agriculture

During the annual Board and staff meeting held in January in Honduras, field staff from Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize and Panama attended a workshop presented by Julie Major of Cornell University on managing soils with biochar. Biochar can be made simply and cheaply from any organic material, just by piling it, covering it up with soil to exclude air and setting it on fire. During the workshop biochar was made from rice hulls and pieces of pine wood for demonstration, but any crop residue or plant waste can be used to make biochar, such as coffee pulp, sawdust, sugarcane bagasse, etc.

Sustainable Harvest International


Phosphorus Speciation in Manure and Manure-Amended Soils Using XANES Spectroscopy
S. Sato, D. Solomon, C. Hyland, Q.M. Ketterings, and J. Lehmann, NSLS Science Highlights, February 9, 2006

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
It is important to know what inorganic phosphorus (P) species are being formed in soils subjected to high, long-term poultry-manure application in order to understand P accumulation and release patterns. Phosphorus K-edge XANES spectra of fresh manure showed no evidence of crystalline P minerals, but did exhibit a dominance of soluble calcium phosphates (CaP) and free and weakly bound phosphates. Soils with a short-term manure history contained both Fe-associated phosphates and soluble CaP. Long-term application resulted in a dominance of CaP and a transformation from soluble to more stable CaP species. However, none of the amended soils showed the presence of crystalline CaP. Maintaining a high pH is therefore an important strategy that can be used to minimize P leaching in these soils.

Bio-energy in the Black
Johannes Lehmann, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2007

Sustainable Agriculture Education Association(SAEA): Facilitating Sustainable Agriculture Education July 11-14, 2007
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Sustainable Agriculture Education Association: SAEA

Join us in Ithaca to celebrate the foundation of the SAEA and to help set our new organization in motion! Watch for our announcement of the time and place for the launch party and first official organizing meeting - two big events in one!


Commentary: A Handful of Carbon
Johannes Lehmann in Nature Magazine, Vol 447, 10 May 2007

Locking carbon up in soil makes more sense than storing it in plants and trees that eventually decompose, argues Johannes Lehmann. Can this idea work on a large scale?

Charcoal as Soil Conditioner: Studies in the humid Tropics
Christoph Steiner1, W. G. Teixeira2, J. Lehmann3and W. Zech1, U Georgia TP 2004


Cornell University: Bio-Char Projects 2007

Bio-char Projects

Currently (January 2007) we conduct experiments to evaluate the effects of bio-char on nutrient adsorption, nutrient leaching, water percolation, soil water availability and carbon cycling as well as the stability and mobility of bio-char itself with research in our Ithaca lab, in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia and Kenya.

Improving soils with biochar: General considerations and current research efforts
Julie Major, Seminar Presentation, Cornell University, February 22, 2006

9.2 MB Power point presentation, Reduced pdf file (1 MB) attached.

Time to Master the Carbon Cycle
Erich J. Knight, January 16, 2007

Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did and that now we are over doing it.

The prehistoric and historic records gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
I wonder what the soil biome carbon concentration was REALLY like before the cutting and burning of the world's virgin forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till and reforestation have started to help rebuild it. It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology like an act of penitence, a returning of the misplaced carbon.


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