Re: Powbrook Avocado tallies 35% Increase in Fruit from Biochar Amended Orchard #compost #avocado #application #patent

Stephen Joseph

Hi Tom

Spot on.  

Will let everyone see the paper when reviewed and accepted.


On Fri, Jan 10, 2020 at 3:14 PM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

Repetitio est mater studiorum, repetition is the mother of study, as they taught us in elementary Latin. I will repeat what I described earlier as the system that Doug Pow created which uses biochar as an important component. He described the system during our study tour at the Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference.  Kathy and Stephen can correct me If I have missed important details.


Doug grows avocados on his farm in Western Australia. He has a clayey soil and wanted to modify the soil to be more like the volcanic soils where the variety of avocado that he grows comes from. So he created a system in which he uses biochar to increase the porosity; chicken manure to provide nutrients; wood chips to compost the chicken manure; and a watering system that provides small amounts of water frequently instead of large amounts less frequently. He uses a commercial grade road grader to remove and set aside 300-600 mm of soil. He then uses a dump truck with a vibrator, normally used for spreading salt on roads, to lay down a uniform layer of biochar. He then uses the road grader to replace the removed soil. He uses a roto hoe to blend the biochar into the soil. Then he lays down the wood chips, chicken manure and  the irrigation system. Trees are spaced 4.5 meters apart in rows spaced 9 meters apart.  


The composting chicken manure charges the biochar amended soils which feeds the roots of the avocado trees. By watering less, more frequently he charges the soil with enough water for the trees without saturating them or letting a lot of water pond and evaporate. The result is shorter trees that are more full, with abundant roots and have twice the number of fruit compared with the control. From the sampling of 36 (of 1000 ) trees that have been amended with biochar the yield improvement is 35% by weight. There are 1000 trees in the control


He intends to amend another 1000 trees. For existing trees he uses the same road grader (which he rents because it is fast and efficient) and cuts a wedge in below the drip line of the trees. He fills the wedge with biochar and uses the roto hoe to blend the biochar in with the soil. Then he applies the chicken manure and wood chips and irrigation system. He gets similar growth results.


Between the rows wander his 100 cows which he maintains to keep the rows clean between the avocado trees. He buys glycerin from a local biodiesel plant (because it is cheaper than molasses) as a sweetener and mixes it with biochar. The cows eat the biochar free choice. As they eat the grass between the rows of avocado trees they drop their manure. The manure is consumed buy dung beetles which drag the biochar enhanced manure down into the soil. His dung beetles are another story that you will find on the web. He showed us an amazing video on 5,000 dung beetles working on one cow pat.


He has shown his system to countless farmers in the region. Now all the stone fruit farmers are using biochar in a similar fashion. The 4,000 tons per year of biochar available from the silicon plant is exhausted, although they will be increasing their charcoal production next year by 50%.


The lesson is that the biochar has been incorporated as one component into an agronomic system that works with Doug’s soils and avocados. It also works for may other orchard growers in the area. Healthier soil, less watering, more fruit. The healthier trees resist disease. He uses no pesticides or herbicides on a regular basis, only small amounts strategically.





From: <> On Behalf Of Stephen Joseph
Sent: Thursday, January 09, 2020 7:30 PM
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Powbrook Avocado tallies 35% Increase in Fruit from Biochar Amended Orchard


Hi Hugh


Kathy's results that she posted are real. I just cant give you a copy of the paper that looks at the characterisation work we did.  The actual data on the year on year results are published in the white paper that Sam Robb and I wrote that is on both the IBI and ANZBI web site.  Suggest you read this.


Please be patient.   I always give the scientific justification to work we do 





On Fri, Jan 10, 2020 at 1:30 PM Hugh McLaughlin via Groups.Io <> wrote:

Dr. Joseph,


I have noticed a pattern of describing HUGE breakthroughs and insights, only compromised by a lack of detail on how to reproduce the results and commercial constraints preventing disclosure, so I request you provide a list of publication that are available for us mortals to learn from, unconstrained by the petty issues of obstructed disclosure.


Always a fan,


Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE



On Thursday, January 9, 2020, 8:52:09 PM EST, Stephen Joseph <joey.stephen@...> wrote:



Hi Rick


Whats the biochar made of at what temperature and residence time.  Did you fully characterise it?


What is the soil type and what is the mulching practice?


We have just submitted a paper for review on 4 years of data from Dougs farmer trial that has a lot of information but until reviewed cant release it.  The Simcoa biochar comes from hardwood with a nice coating of water soluble organic molecules that really help microbe grow.   The kiln runs at 600C but the residence time for the small particles is short and NMR XPS of the biochar indicates a temperature of somewhere between 480 and 520C.





On Fri, Jan 10, 2020 at 8:50 AM Rick Wilson via Groups.Io <> wrote:

Do we why the WA team believed they saw positive results?  Is there a particular soil deficiency that the biochar addressed?


I have been running an avocado trial (established) for three years with biochar in Santa Paula, CA, 12 CY per acre, three acres treated, applied in the root zones under the tree line, after we cleared out some of the soil, and then put the soil back. (Avocado roots grow out, about 9 inches deep).  Fertilization is professionally managed and drop irrigation is used "fertigation".  So the grove started out in good shape. 


The control is giving slightly better yields. The trunks measured with calipers after three years are larger for the control.  The soil is about 2% organic matter, and it is calcareous.  This biochar was from a major producer, fully wetted upon receipt, about six months old.  Perhaps the biochar is imparting time release on the fertigation, slowing nutrient release to the plant (which I have seen in greenhouse studies), reducing yield.


I did not have a particular problem I was trying to fix with the biochar, tried it because I had some biochar. There are also treatments with top dressed compost at 20 tons per acre, and the compost seems to be reducing the soil pH over time.


Rick Wilson



On Thursday, January 9, 2020, 10:44:20 AM PST, Benoit Lambert, PhD <benoit.lambert7@...> wrote:



humm Thank you Kathy and Tom! So nice to read about such spectacular results, especially on avocado, a product with such strong and rising demand. I read similar results for blueberries, tomatoes, hemp. Of course biochar will not work with everything, but all we need is a few crops to get going. Biochar reduces water and fertilizers needs, while trapping GHG — indeed win-win-win. And the effect is permanent in most cases. 

Regards, Benoit in Québec 

Le 9 janv. 2020 à 13:18, Tom Miles <tmiles@...> a écrit :


From Kathy Dawson, Biochar Network of Western Australia: 


Many thanks to Vic Grozotis for enabling a special run of Doug Pow's avocados at his Manjimup packhouse yesterday. All avocados were stripped from both the biochar trial row (about 4 and a third bins) and the control row (3 bins) and were run separately through the grading process. Final figures indicate there was 35% more marketable fruit from the 36 biochar treated trees. We need to play around with the figures to see where real differences lie. Unfortunately the funded project concluded two years ago so the continuation of assessing and record keeping is a great voluntary effort that will benefit more than the avocado industry.

Tom Miles

International Biochar Initiative






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