Re: Biochar Market Strategies #market

Harry Groot

Mr. Casten, I agree wholeheartedly with your three suggestions.  As the lead author for the Wood Education Resource Center funded Biochar Industry Survey and Analysis, these were highlighted needs which have been presented to USFS by a number of biochar advocates.  Getting funding for the effort to execute these efforts is the constraint.  I'm certainly interested in participating/supporting efforts in that direction and have a proposal currently before WERC to provide some funding for some focused looks at top biochar markets.  Hepe to hear positively on that by summer.

Another item which I think will make a difference, but will be difficult to implement in the current political climate, is credit for sequestering carbon.  California has managed to keep the forest carbon market alive, but it has a lot of limitations for the majority of landowners and forest managers.  Wider use of biochar, especially incorporated in soils, has multiple benefits, even without the carbon sequestration benefit.  I've also talked to a couple of folks considering biochar production projects at a larger scale, who've told me a carbon credit wouldn't make much difference to their investment decision so I don't know what to think about the idea's efficacy.  I know from experience that forest carbon credits were widely popular and that past policy decisions to offer offsets were successful in reducing SO4 emissions.

Harry Groot
Dovetail Partners, Inc.
Hiwassee, Virginia

On Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 5:31 PM Thomas Casten <tr9casten@...> wrote:
Herewith my list of proposed IBI strategies to speed deployment of biochar
  1. Build a comprehensive road map for all opportunities to improve margins by using biochar. Create and make a database of all biochar research that has shown applications of biochar with ancillary benefits to the person/company using biochar, organized by crop, animal or material production that added biochar to conventional production.  For each reported trial, detail the marginal economics (revenue from added yield plus savings from all avoided inputs less the costs of biochar and other amendments, all per hectare, animal, or unit of material production.  (This will take much effort because most research papers do not attach the tables of physical inputs and reports results as percentage changes.  However, the researchers must have created this data to calculate the percentage changes.)  Avoid description of the scientific rationale; simply cite the study.  This keeps the results in lay language.  State assumed costs of marginal inputs including biochar and values of added yield per kg or other unit used in the marginal analysis and allow users to input their local prices and costs to calculate the likely benefit to farmers/forest owners/materials producers who achieve the same ancillary benefits as shown in the research.  I am working on this goal and welcome help and comments.  The logic is 
  2. Prepare a detailed explanation of how early research failed to document biochar claims and how later research has documented many benefits of using biochar.  Recent biochar research seems to validate many biochar benefits including the 1,000 year plus sequestration of most of the biochar carbon, increased yields of many crops, increased animal growth, yield growth continuing years after biochar application, reduction of methane from belching ruminants and from later manure management, reduction of N2O emissions from manure management, decreased need for inorganic fertilizers, soil organic carbon increases for at least ten years after biochar amendment, reduced runoff from biochar induced mycorrhizal fungi, increased methane production from anaerobic digesters, increased gas quality from anaerobic digesters, etc.  This product is a comprehensive update of the biochar knowledge base.
  3. Build a database of producers and annual production of biochar by country, by feedstock, and by preparation details.  Find a way to obtain and protect each producer's competitive information while accurately tracking the regional and global production of biochar.  
Thomas R Casten
Cell: 630-915-9215
Work: 630-321-1095

On Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 10:50 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

Welcome new list members from the International Biochar Initiative, Nordic, Finnish, and Swedish Biochar, European Biochar Council, African Biochar Partnership, Asian Pacific Biochar Conference and others. We created this list in 2006 to support the IBI and the biochar community. List members represent a wide variety of interests from small farmers and gardeners to industrial producers and consumers.


We have seen increased production and use of biochars and biochar based product worldwide. Results vary as producers learn the needs of users and users learn the requirements for increasing soil health, reducing contaminations and improving climate resilience. Many companies have developed products and markets and are in a position to scale up but need financial support.  Public and private sources are frequently asked to fund biochar research or production. These organization have asked IBI and USBI to develop Biochar Market Strategies to help guide their investments. Where should funds be invested to improve biochar markets? What strategies will lead us to increased investor confidence? We look forward to your thoughts and experience.




Tom Miles

International Biochar Initiative



Thomas R Casten

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