Charcoal

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
Country: 

Phillip Small Blog: Making Charcoal with an Inverted Downdraft Gasifier
Phillip Small,February 10, 2007

Phillip Small described how he uses an inverted downdraft gasifier inspired by Tom Reed and Ray Garlington to make charcoal for soil fertility experiments.

Inverted downdraft gasifier photos on Flickr

From the Hypography Science Forum - TerraPreta

Effects of Soil Microbial Fertility by Charcoal in Soil
Makoto Ogawa, Kansai Environment Engineering Center, Kansai Electric Power Co. Ltd, UGA Conference 2004

Characteristics and Function of Charcoal

1.Porous substance with high water and air holding capacity; Suitable habitat for some microbes and plant growth, good material for soil amendment, absorption of chemicals and humidity control

2.High alkalinity ; Neutralization of acidic soil and improvement of chemical components of soil and

Country: 

Green Charcoal by Pronatura International, France

Two billion people around the world use wood for household energy needs. This contributes significantly to the world's deforestation activities as well as increasing the risk of droughts and desertification. In an attempt to reduce deforestation, Pro-Natura has developed Green-Charcoal.

This technological innovation, using agricultural residues and unused biomass, produces an environmentally friendly and economically competitive alternative to wood and charcoal. It has been awarded the 1st Prize 2002 of the ALTRAN Foundation for technological innovation.

Carbon sequestration is another means of mitigating glbal warming. Reforestation and agroforestry practices allow the excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to be stored in trees and in soil (in the form of organic matter). The consequent revitalization of the soil also improves agricultural productivity. In this field Pro-Natura collaborates with Eco-Carbone.

Pro-Natura International has developed a continuous process of pyrolysis of vegetable waste (agricultural residues, renewable wild-grown biomass) transforming them into green charcoal. This domestic fuel performs the same as
charcoal made from wood, at half the cost. It represents a freeing up from the constraints of scarcity, distance and cost of available fuels in Africa.

The machinery required for the process is of relatively modest scale and functions on practically no outside energy and no emission of toxic fumes, it only takes 8 kW of electric power. When run by two persons, it can produce
more than 4 tonnes of green charcoal a day.

Projects- Brazil: Carvao da biomassa

See Pronatura International web page for documents and links.

Processes: 

Chicken Litter Project & Potential of TP Sequestration
Erich J. Knight, Shenandoah Gardens, February 6, 2007

A professor at Virginia Tech will be starting a pilot project at a poultry farm near me next month.

See:
http://www.cals.vt.edu/news/pubs/innovations/jan2007/problem.html

Please contact me if any of you are interested in joining me on a field trip to Dayton VA. to see Dr. Foster A Agblevor's chicken litter pyrolysis project.

Processes: 
Country: 

Positive Charcoal=Negative Carbon?
Why adding charcoal to the Earth's soils will also address climate change.
Ron Larson. Chair, American Solar Energy Society, Solar Today, November-December 2006

"We clearly are making progress on global warming education. Scientific American magazine

Mélanie Élouise Bennet PhD Student University of East Anglia, School of Biological Sciences John Innes Centre, Dept. Molecular Mircobiology Chairman, UEA Gardening Group m.bennet@uea.ac.uk

The current challenge

The world faces a “perfect storm” of food, water and energy shortages. Food stocks are the lowest they’ve been in 50 years. John Beddington, chief scientific advisor to the UK Government, has stated that 50% more food, 50% more energy and 30% more water will be needed by 2030 to supply a growing population. Even in developed nations like Britain and Australia, rising environmental pressure on crops would drive up import prices. Higher temperatures and less water brought about by climate change is expected to make some crop growing area difficult to manage, particularly in areas which are already experiencing drier than normal conditions. However, the precise impacts of climate change are difficult to predict accurately.

Country: 

The charcoal effect in Boreal forests: mechanisms and ecological consequences
D. A. Wardle, O. Zackrisson, M.-C. Nilsson, Department of Forest Vegetation Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, S-901 83 Ume

Country: 

Key Ecological Function of Charcoal from Wildfire in the Boreal Forest
Olle Zackrisson, Marie-Charlotte Nilsson, David A. Wardle, Oikos, Vol. 77, No. 1 (Oct., 1996), pp. 10-19
doi:10.2307/3545580

Country: 

Pages

Subscribe to Charcoal