Excerpt -- full article here:
"Scientists around the world are working in labs and field trial plots
to better understand how biochar works, and to unravel the many
mysteries of terra preta. At Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.,
microbiologists have discovered bacteria in terra preta soils that are
similar to strains that are active in hot compost piles. Overall
populations of fungi and bacteria are high in terra preta soils, too,
but the presence of abundant carbon makes the microorganisms live and
reproduce at a slowed pace. The result is a reduction in the turnover
rate of organic matter in the soil, so composts and other
soil-enriching forms of organic matter last longer."
"In field trials with corn, rice and many other crops, biochar has
increased productivity by making nutrients already present in the soil
better available to plants. Results are especially dramatic when
biochar is added to good soil that contains ample minerals and plant
nutrients. Research continues (track it at The International Biochar
Initiative), but at this point it appears that biochar gives both
organic matter and microorganisms in organically enriched soil
enhanced staying power. Digging in nuggets of biochar — or adding them
to compost as it is set aside to cure — can slow the leaching away of
nutrients and help organically enriched soil retain nutrients for
decades rather than for a couple of seasons."
"If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the
worst." -- Thomas Hardy
I couldn't get my head around this concept the first time you presented
it, Charlie, but then I read the Wikipedia article on BioChar
TF-8 and the first thing that came to mind was activated carbon filters
that strain (physically filter) as well as form ionic bonds with
material suspended in the water in order to remove them. If this is the
case (the premise), then powered charcoal would be a better addition
because of its'greater surface area/weight ratio.
The Wikipedia article also points out that charcoals' durability makes
it a good candidate for carbon sequestration. With sequestration, you
would want larger chunks of charcoal to reduce the surface area (the
area of degradation).
Guess I'll have to get the little grey cells working on a way to strain
the charcoal out of my wood ash.
Thanks for bringing the subject of BioChar up again :O)
My primary interest in terra preta is soil improvement, carbon
sequestration secondary. The cost/benefit is loaded entirely upon the
benefit side, minimal labor excluded. My kind of process.
Unfortunately, David and Fran and all are up to their arses in
biochar. Their situation is another topic entirely and causes me much
concern, for them personally and and as an indicator of global
"In addition to its potential for carbon sequestration, biochar has
numerous co-benefits when added to soil. It can prevent the leaching
of nutrients out of the soil, increase the available nutrients for
plant growth, increase water retention, and reduce the amount
of fertilizer required. Additionally, it has been shown to decrease
N2O (Nitrous oxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions from soil, thus
further reducing GHG emissions. Biochar can be utilized in many
applications as a replacement for or co-terminous strategy with other
bioenergy production strategies. One of its most immediate uses is in
switching from "slash-and-burn” to “slash-and-char” to prevent the
rapid deforestation and subsequent degradation of soils."
“Biochar sequestration does not require a fundamental scientific
advance and the underlying production technology is robust and simple,
making it appropriate for many regions of the world.”
***Note the reference to water retention.***
"Do no harm & leave the world a better place than you found it."
Meant to add this reference to the previous post, from the references
listed in your wiki reference....whew....too many references to which
one must refer.
Good practical apps.
Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.
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