Char Research

Laura Sanna, Maim Engineering, Sardinia, Italy

Maim has been studying the potential use or pyrolisis and other treatments in effectively handling chicken wastes. The initial study has been favorable, and the environmental impact minimal.

For more detail see: Positive conclusions from Italian biomass pyrolysis research

Maim Engineering


December, 2011

The Austrialian Department of Agriculture of Fisheries and Forestry has issued a thoughtful summary paper that surveys the existing research on with biochar, and its implications for agriculture and suggests further areas of research.

Download the paper here:
Biochar: implications for agricultural productivity


Oxford Biochar, Summer, 2011

Oxford Biochar is sponsoring a giantexperiment to test the effectiveness of Biochar in standard garden plots all across Britain.

The Big Biochar Experiment

The web site does a nice job of explaining what biochar is, and showing the benefits of adding it to your soil. Then it asks home gardeners to set up 2 plots, one a test, and one a control. Add the biochar, and record data about what types of things they added to both plots, the pest control needed and the yields from that plot are. It looks like it will do a nice job of seeing whether regular gardeners are likely to see results from biochar in the first year.

It's too late for spring planting, but it's just the right time for summer planting for fall crops. Information about the plot test, and tips for getting started and recording data are on the web page:


Arborists in Chicago are studying the results of biochar on trees growing in urban soils that are typically hostile to trees. This research is part of a larger urban-soils study that includes applications of biochar in greenhouse and field plot settings at The Morton Arboretum. The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories have also been testing adding biochar to the soil mix when planting trees. More information and media coverage of this study about biochar and urban tree care can be found on the Bartlett Tree Experts web site.



Biochar in the fields of Uttarakhand (part of Himalayas in Northern part of India) - traditional practices as observed. During my recent visit to parts of Uttarakhand : Khatgodam - Almora - Berinag - Ramgarh made the following observations on the biochar. Some of the fields have turned dark due the biochar added to the fields over years, the following are the main source of biochar:
1. Burning of crop residue along with the pine needles and other biomass.
2. Biochar from cook stoves, added along with farm yard manure.
Bichar and ash also found in the forests due to fire. Pine needles accumulated on the forest floor catch fire easily.


Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Alterna Biocarbon Inc.

As the world of biochar expands, the need for definitive research to answer core questions grows. One such question is “What is the role of adsorption and when does it make a pivotal difference in growing situations?” Answering those questions has been hampered by the historical absence of adsorption as a monitored property in soils and soil components (as compared to CEC) and the lack of a reliable method to create low and high adsorption biochars. While there is little that can be done about the former situation, the later may have a fairly facile solution, which will be presented here.

On the Practical Biology web site, there's a nicely done lesson plan that lays out how to do biochar, and biochar + compost tests with Broad Beans

Lesson plan link:

This lesson plan talks kids through laying out a plot test with proper controls and blending biochar.


Article originally written by Micheal Rost for the Soil Food Web Insights Newsletter

See the attached Soil Food Web Insights Newsletter for the full report, and check out their web site, for more information.


The biochar concept has challenged scientists to figure out the best approach to turning waste organic material into stable carbon. This exciting new development has attracted the attention of researchers like John Miedema.

Miedema is collaborating on biochar research with Oregon State University and USDA-ARS
and is funded by a Western Oregon timber company. He was an early adopter of the global warming
concept, and is concerned with mitigating the amount of excess CO2 being deposited in the Earth’s
atmosphere. He’s also concerned about devising new methods to feed the population of the world.


Biochar Fund, Kumba, Cameroon
Septemer, 2009

Since December 2008, more than 1500 subsistence farmers in Cameroon's South-West Region (SWR) have been participating in the largest-ever field trial testing the effects of biochar on crop productivity. The first results of this ongoing experiment, based on maize planted in a large series of plots, are now available. The data can be described as 'remarkable', in that they demonstrate how biochar consistently helps to boost crop productivity in tropical soils, sometimes in a spectacular manner.

The preliminary results suggest that biochar may offer a solution to hunger and food insecurity amongst the world's poorest, as well as to soil depletion and tropical deforestation.

Data Page with Current Results

Project Photo Pages with Participant and Plant Photos

See the Biochar Fund Report Page for an the Full Report, and continuing updates


Field Trials;
 I am field testing for the 09 corn season with JMU and consultation  Dr. Hepperly at Rodale Institute.

Ten research priorities were identified at the IBI conference, The following priorities I hope to address:
• 1- Economy research/market research
• 2- plant+soil research depending on biochar
• 5- field trials
• 8- application to soil (depending on agricultural or other

Planting date: June 24th.
Two split plots , which each are split into a 20% (27 tons/Ac) & 5% (7 tons/Ac) application rates,
All chars soaked in tarps for 1 month, all chars were mixed 1:2 by volume with finished poultry litter compost and roto-tilled to 5 inch depth.


Subscribe to Char Research