Accidental Wood Char #compost #flamecap


mikethewormguy
 

On Wed, May 6, 2020 at 08:18 PM, Tom Miles wrote:

As we receive news and videos from Warm Heart International’s projects in Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana it is gratifying to see smallholders benefitting from biochar they can make themselves. Warm Heart is having a big impact with no budget and a lot of good will. Their smallholders are making biochar from corn cobs in TLUDs and maize stalks in pit kilns. They are using it with manure in their crops and feeding it to their poultry, pigs and cattle. Using crop residues for biochar instead of simply burning them provides an important resource to increase their soil and animal health, not to mention the charcoal savings. (The cooking charcoal challenge is huge in Africa. An estimated 50 million tons of charcoal is produced from 400 million tons of wood. By 2050 it is expected that they will need 115 million tons of charcoal from a billion tonnes of wood.)

 

Congratulations to all those who are working on biochar projects in Africa. Let’s expand those programs.         


 Tom,

Below is a picture of what turned out to be accidental flame cap tree branch char.....

The fire pit is 3 feet across, 20 inches deep and lined by brick and rock.....

We did some extensive pruning of trees on Monday.  I spent about 3 hours Tuesday morning burning all of the tree trimmings in the fire pit. When I was done I burning I decided to quench the fire with water rather then let the fire burn down to ash.

By water quenching the fire, I was rewarded with a 10 inch deep pile of charred pieces of tree trimmings 3 feet across. 

Today I dug the charred pieces out of the pit and I broadcasted lightly these pieces evenly over the top of the garden beds that will planted out in 30 days.  Using a shovel, I turned over the soil in the beds which brought the char pieces into the soil horizon....

Now I need to remember what I did accidentally to make this pit char.on purpose next time......
.
Mike


Tom Miles
 

Nice work. Thanks!

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of mikethewormguy via groups.io
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2020 10:55 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] Accidental Wood Char

 

On Wed, May 6, 2020 at 08:18 PM, Tom Miles wrote:

As we receive news and videos from Warm Heart International’s projects in Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana it is gratifying to see smallholders benefitting from biochar they can make themselves. Warm Heart is having a big impact with no budget and a lot of good will. Their smallholders are making biochar from corn cobs in TLUDs and maize stalks in pit kilns. They are using it with manure in their crops and feeding it to their poultry, pigs and cattle. Using crop residues for biochar instead of simply burning them provides an important resource to increase their soil and animal health, not to mention the charcoal savings. (The cooking charcoal challenge is huge in Africa. An estimated 50 million tons of charcoal is produced from 400 million tons of wood. By 2050 it is expected that they will need 115 million tons of charcoal from a billion tonnes of wood.)

 

Congratulations to all those who are working on biochar projects in Africa. Let’s expand those programs.         


 Tom,

Below is a picture of what turned out to be accidental flame cap tree branch char.....

The fire pit is 3 feet across, 20 inches deep and lined by brick and rock.....

We did some extensive pruning of trees on Monday.  I spent about 3 hours Tuesday morning burning all of the tree trimmings in the fire pit. When I was done I burning I decided to quench the fire with water rather then let the fire burn down to ash.

By water quenching the fire, I was rewarded with a 10 inch deep pile of charred pieces of tree trimmings 3 feet across. 

Today I dug the charred pieces out of the pit and I broadcasted lightly these pieces evenly over the top of the garden beds that will planted out in 30 days.  Using a shovel, I turned over the soil in the beds which brought the char pieces into the soil horizon....

Now I need to remember what I did accidentally to make this pit char.on purpose next time......
.
Mike


John Hofmeyr
 

Hello, Mike. 
I'm a chemist, not a soil biologist, so take this whence it comes. Neat idea but, at the risk of 'teaching granny to suck eggs':
When freshly-made biochar is applied to soil, it will adsorb moisture and extant nutrients from the bulk soil onto the pore surfaces.
There the nutrients will be held, probably not in plant-available form.
And because the char is not yet colonised by microbiota, so it will take some time to perform many of its functions. Especially the mycorrhizal fungi will be absent because those types of biota are associated with plant roots. In the absence of plant roots - no mycorrhizae.
Would it be better to mix the char into your vermicast for a few weeks before applying to the soil? If you do that, remember that the char will adsorb moisture from the castings. Moisture control may be necessary. 
Or place the fresh char in your mature compost for, say, 3 weeks before applying to your soil? Again, moisture control may be important; I understand that, if the moisture content drops below 30%m/m, the mycorrhizae will die off and only the spores will survive. That means more time required before the spores can establish new fungi (again, only in the presence of roots.)
Any soil biologist on the group, please correct anything which I have misunderstood. 


mikethewormguy
 

John,

I understand your concerns. I have them myself.

btw......  I am more of a human nutritionist/biochemist than a chemist...

I typically never use naked char in our growing beds.

In this instance I soaked the char bits in water to quench them.  I  have turned them into the garden soil within a 10 inch depth . I lightly spread them over the soil surface.  I will not be planting into that soil for 4 weeks.  We have very biologically active soil.  In a sense our garden beds are worm bins......

I am expecting that the char bits will be moisten by rain and colonized by the indigenous life after 4 weeks in the soil.

I will find out in June if I guessed right....

Having a crazy spring here.  Its 32 degrees F with snow flurries.   I am so happy climate disruption is a hoax.......

Mike. 


John Hofmeyr
 

On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 09:27 AM, mikethewormguy wrote:
Its 32 degrees F with snow flurries
@mikethewormguy: And yet I believe people live there by choice!??     ;-)


mikethewormguy
 

Yes, the weather can a challenge but us locals  have a saying....." If you don't like the weather than wait a minute".........;-)


Andrew Wells
 

Mike - thank you for this post. Your description of the flame cap fire pit made it seem so easy I had to run out and try it... intentionally, and with great success!

My soil is mostly clay so didn't even need to line the hole with rocks. It took most of the day (36-deg F. with light snow the whole time) but reduced one large brush pile to one half-barrel of good char. I already have other devices for making biochar. Each has its benefits and they work well but they require more pre-processing of the feedstock - the fire pit handles all those unruly sticks and twigs with ease and the flame cap design eliminates all smoke. My wife is thrilled that I now have a viable plan for removing her remaining "eye sores" (brush piles) and we'll certainly put the char to good use as well.

Andy


mikethewormguy
 


Andy,

Happy wife.....happy life.....which allow you to be more CHARmin........;-)

Mike


Geoff Thomas
 

Yet again, folk calling Char, Biochar, - it is so hard to get this industry going with that basic fault incorporated.

Unadulterated char is just char and usually harmful if applied straight to the soil, , Char with chemicals added is Chemi-Char, Char with Biology added is Biochar. - What could be more simple yet lead to clear communications?
Kiss.

On 8 May 2020, at 3:54 am, mikethewormguy via groups.io <mikethewormguy@...> wrote:

On Wed, May 6, 2020 at 08:18 PM, Tom Miles wrote:
As we receive news and videos from Warm Heart International’s projects in Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana it is gratifying to see smallholders benefitting from biochar they can make themselves. Warm Heart is having a big impact with no budget and a lot of good will. Their smallholders are making biochar from corn cobs in TLUDs and maize stalks in pit kilns. They are using it with manure in their crops and feeding it to their poultry, pigs and cattle. Using crop residues for biochar instead of simply burning them provides an important resource to increase their soil and animal health, not to mention the charcoal savings. (The cooking charcoal challenge is huge in Africa. An estimated 50 million tons of charcoal is produced from 400 million tons of wood. By 2050 it is expected that they will need 115 million tons of charcoal from a billion tonnes of wood.)

 

Congratulations to all those who are working on biochar projects in Africa. Let’s expand those programs.         

 Tom,

Below is a picture of what turned out to be accidental flame cap tree branch char.....

The fire pit is 3 feet across, 20 inches deep and lined by brick and rock.....

We did some extensive pruning of trees on Monday.  I spent about 3 hours Tuesday morning burning all of the tree trimmings in the fire pit. When I was done I burning I decided to quench the fire with water rather then let the fire burn down to ash.

By water quenching the fire, I was rewarded with a 10 inch deep pile of charred pieces of tree trimmings 3 feet across. 

Today I dug the charred pieces out of the pit and I broadcasted lightly these pieces evenly over the top of the garden beds that will planted out in 30 days.  Using a shovel, I turned over the soil in the beds which brought the char pieces into the soil horizon....

Now I need to remember what I did accidentally to make this pit char.on purpose next time......
.
Mike

<20200506_130648.jpg> <20200506_130648.jpg>


Bob Wells
 

John,

    The very best way to get the biochar ready for your soil is to add it to your compost at the front end of the composting process.  It has been shown to soak up much (50%) of the escaping nitrogen during the composting.  It speeds up the composting by doing the same thing that it does in the soil, mainly balancing moisture and making a better environment for the microbes who are colonizing it as it works.  You get better, faster compost in the end and perfectly inoculated biochar.  It also reduces smells from the compost.  Win, win, win.  Don't go beyond 10% biochar by volume is all.

Bob

On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 11:08 AM John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:
Hello, Mike. 
I'm a chemist, not a soil biologist, so take this whence it comes. Neat idea but, at the risk of 'teaching granny to suck eggs':
When freshly-made biochar is applied to soil, it will adsorb moisture and extant nutrients from the bulk soil onto the pore surfaces.
There the nutrients will be held, probably not in plant-available form.
And because the char is not yet colonised by microbiota, so it will take some time to perform many of its functions. Especially the mycorrhizal fungi will be absent because those types of biota are associated with plant roots. In the absence of plant roots - no mycorrhizae.
Would it be better to mix the char into your vermicast for a few weeks before applying to the soil? If you do that, remember that the char will adsorb moisture from the castings. Moisture control may be necessary. 
Or place the fresh char in your mature compost for, say, 3 weeks before applying to your soil? Again, moisture control may be important; I understand that, if the moisture content drops below 30%m/m, the mycorrhizae will die off and only the spores will survive. That means more time required before the spores can establish new fungi (again, only in the presence of roots.)
Any soil biologist on the group, please correct anything which I have misunderstood. 



--
Bob Wells
Biochar Systems

New England Biochar LLC
Box 266 - 40 Redberry Ln.
Eastham, MA 02642, USA
T:  (508) 255-3688
bob@...
www.newenglandbiochar.com



John Hofmeyr
 

Too true, @Bob Wells . Agreed.


Rick Wilson
 

Hi Bob,
Do you have any reports, studies, papers that you could share attesting to the performance of biochar in the composting process?  I am very involved in the compost industry and have been trying to get some traction demonstrating its value, no one wants to be first, so previous studies would help.  Thanks!  Rick Wilson

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 09:52:32 AM PDT, John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:


Too true, @Bob Wells . Agreed.


Geoff Thomas
 

Hi Rick, hope my contribution gets through to you, - as answers some of your queries.
Geoff T

On 12 May 2020, at 1:37 am, Bob Wells <bob@...> wrote:

Bob

On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 11:08 AM John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:
Hello, Mike. 
I'm a chemist, not a soil biologist, so take this whence it comes. Neat idea but, at the risk of 'teaching granny to suck eggs':
When freshly-made biochar is applied to soil, it will adsorb moisture and extant nutrients from the bulk soil onto the pore surfaces.
There the nutrients will be held, probably not in plant-available form. 
And because the char is not yet colonised by microbiota, so it will take some time to perform many of its functions. Especially the mycorrhizal fungi will be absent because those types of biota are associated with plant roots. In the absence of plant roots - no mycorrhizae.
Would it be better to mix the char into your vermicast for a few weeks before applying to the soil? If you do that, remember that the char will adsorb moisture from the castings. Moisture control may be necessary. 
Or place the fresh char in your mature compost for, say, 3 weeks before applying to your soil? Again, moisture control may be important; I understand that, if the moisture content drops below 30%m/m, the mycorrhizae will die off and only the spores will survive. That means more time required before the spores can establish new fungi (again, only in the presence of roots.)
Any soil biologist on the group, please correct anything which I have misunderstood. 




-- 
Bob Wells
Biochar Systems


Geoff Thomas
 

Hi Bob, although I have mainly done as you do, rear end, BUT I have chewed away at the concept of the front end, - ie beginning of the composting process, - think of it, - the input will include weeds, local manures, bits of older compost, - made in the same spot, it will have excessive amounts of all sorts of good things, - esp. nitrogenous etc.

It makes sense to me, the weeds etc will have the Micorrhs, plus the site, there will be needed the Pyrolitic wood char to soak up that otherwise lost nitrogen etc, the environment will have plenty of water as the plant material deliquesces, the char will presumably assist cation, etc. reactions, and after it all settles down any additional biology from  eg worm castings can be added, preferably with some sugar, etc.  to feed the by then burgeoning biology. 
And at that, Biology that needs sugars, the which your seedlings will provide.

I am looking forward to try it for my next round of gardening expansion, and will also put in at the front end, almost broken down cardboard, as I am using cardboard from the local Supermarket as mulch so will be putting the bochar Under the cardboard, - takes about 3 months to break down half a dozen layers of cardboard, each layer a collpsed box, I bore through the cardboard to plant, and ex rainforest soil, weeds grow as you look at them, - at 71, I have to husband my energies, hence this approach, but yes - at the front end, when everything is at an excess.

Cheers,
Geoff Thomas.

On 12 May 2020, at 1:37 am, Bob Wells <bob@...> wrote:

Bob

On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 11:08 AM John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:
Hello, Mike. 
I'm a chemist, not a soil biologist, so take this whence it comes. Neat idea but, at the risk of 'teaching granny to suck eggs':
When freshly-made biochar is applied to soil, it will adsorb moisture and extant nutrients from the bulk soil onto the pore surfaces.
There the nutrients will be held, probably not in plant-available form. 
And because the char is not yet colonised by microbiota, so it will take some time to perform many of its functions. Especially the mycorrhizal fungi will be absent because those types of biota are associated with plant roots. In the absence of plant roots - no mycorrhizae.
Would it be better to mix the char into your vermicast for a few weeks before applying to the soil? If you do that, remember that the char will adsorb moisture from the castings. Moisture control may be necessary. 
Or place the fresh char in your mature compost for, say, 3 weeks before applying to your soil? Again, moisture control may be important; I understand that, if the moisture content drops below 30%m/m, the mycorrhizae will die off and only the spores will survive. That means more time required before the spores can establish new fungi (again, only in the presence of roots.)
Any soil biologist on the group, please correct anything which I have misunderstood. 




-- 
Bob Wells
Biochar Systems


Geoff Thomas
 

Hi Bob, although I have mainly done as you do, rear end, BUT I have chewed away at the concept of the front end, - ie beginning of the composting process, - think of it, - the input will include weeds, local manures, bits of older compost, - made in the same spot, it will have excessive amounts of all sorts of good things, - esp. nitrogenous etc.

It makes sense to me, the weeds etc will have the Micorrhs, plus the site, there will be needed the Pyrolitic wood char to soak up that otherwise lost nitrogen etc, the environment will have plenty of water as the plant material deliquesces, the char will presumably assist cation, etc. reactions, and after it all settles down any additional biology from  eg worm castings can be added, preferably with some sugar, etc.  to feed the by then burgeoning biology. 
And at that, Biology that needs sugars, the which your seedlings will provide.

I am looking forward to try it for my next round of gardening expansion, and will also put in at the front end, almost broken down cardboard, as I am using cardboard from the local Supermarket as mulch so will be putting the bochar Under the cardboard, - takes about 3 months to break down half a dozen layers of cardboard, each layer a collpsed box, I bore through the cardboard to plant, and ex rainforest soil, weeds grow as you look at them, - at 71, I have to husband my energies, hence this approach, but yes - at the front end, when everything is at an excess.

Cheers,
Geoff Thomas.

On 12 May 2020, at 1:37 am, Bob Wells <bob@...> wrote:

Bob

On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 11:08 AM John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:
Hello, Mike. 
I'm a chemist, not a soil biologist, so take this whence it comes. Neat idea but, at the risk of 'teaching granny to suck eggs':
When freshly-made biochar is applied to soil, it will adsorb moisture and extant nutrients from the bulk soil onto the pore surfaces.
There the nutrients will be held, probably not in plant-available form. 
And because the char is not yet colonised by microbiota, so it will take some time to perform many of its functions. Especially the mycorrhizal fungi will be absent because those types of biota are associated with plant roots. In the absence of plant roots - no mycorrhizae.
Would it be better to mix the char into your vermicast for a few weeks before applying to the soil? If you do that, remember that the char will adsorb moisture from the castings. Moisture control may be necessary. 
Or place the fresh char in your mature compost for, say, 3 weeks before applying to your soil? Again, moisture control may be important; I understand that, if the moisture content drops below 30%m/m, the mycorrhizae will die off and only the spores will survive. That means more time required before the spores can establish new fungi (again, only in the presence of roots.)
Any soil biologist on the group, please correct anything which I have misunderstood. 




-- 
Bob Wells
Biochar Systems


Bob Wells
 

Christoph Steiner has done a lot of work on that.   https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2134/jeq2009.0337  Here is one paper, I know there are others if you look.


On Fri, May 15, 2020 at 1:13 AM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hi Bob,
Do you have any reports, studies, papers that you could share attesting to the performance of biochar in the composting process?  I am very involved in the compost industry and have been trying to get some traction demonstrating its value, no one wants to be first, so previous studies would help.  Thanks!  Rick Wilson

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 09:52:32 AM PDT, John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:


Too true, @Bob Wells . Agreed.



--
Bob Wells
Biochar Systems

New England Biochar LLC
Box 266 - 40 Redberry Ln.
Eastham, MA 02642, USA
T:  (508) 255-3688
bob@...
www.newenglandbiochar.com



Tom Miles
 

Rick,

 

See attached compendium by David Chiaramonti and team at RE-CORD, Italy.

 

Tom

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Rick Wilson via groups.io
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2020 10:14 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io; main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Accidental Wood Char

 

Hi Bob,

Do you have any reports, studies, papers that you could share attesting to the performance of biochar in the composting process?  I am very involved in the compost industry and have been trying to get some traction demonstrating its value, no one wants to be first, so previous studies would help.  Thanks!  Rick Wilson

 

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 09:52:32 AM PDT, John Hofmeyr <john-h@...> wrote:

 

 

Too true, @Bob Wells . Agreed.