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Small Scale Biochar: Making it Good for the Earth and Climate

September 13, 2014 @ 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm


an Abundance DIY Sustainability Workshop with John Bonitz
Saturday, September 13th, from 1-4:30pm
Located at the Plant, 220 Lorax Lane, Pittsboro, NC
for directions, click here.

Making Homemade Biochar the Cool Way!
Biochar is a great way to add carbon to your soils that will stick around much longer than compost or anything else.  It also helps your plants resist dry spells and drought by retaining moisture.  And it stimulates the soil food web by giving microbes shelter, and tasty bits for mycorrhizial fungi to eat or share with your plants.  In all these ways, it can also help reduce the fertilizer you add to your soils.

But there are good and bad ways to make and prepare biochar.  First, it’s possible to make biochar in ways that warm the climate by creating a lot of greenhouse gas pollution.  Second, that pollution is also a nuisance or a health hazard.  Third, once you’ve made the biochar it’s really important that you prepare it before you add it to your soils — otherwise you might reduce the productivity of your soils.
Participants will make their own one-gallon “toucan” biochar gasifier stove, use their stove to make biochar, and learn some basic biochar science.  We’ll discuss climate-friendly biomass feedstocks, “cool” and “uncool” biochar production, biochar safety, basic biochar processing for soils, basic soil science, and we’ll touch on ways to scale-up for larger batches.

Be sure to bring your own thick gloves.  We’ll provide the materials, tools, biomass feedstock, and printed instructions.  Oh, and you should probably also wear closed-toed shoes, and pants.  Be aware that you might get some black char on yourself or your clothes, and it can sometimes be difficult to wash out.

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About the Instructor:
As the son of a dairy farmer and an insulation industry pioneer, John’s interest in agriculture, forestry, energy and the environment runs deep. John’s environmental profession began as an award winning solid waste manager and recycling coordinator. Graduate studies in climate change policy brought him to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), analyzing cost-effective renewable energy technologies. He has also worked in sustainable agriculture, addressing the challenges of financing farm ventures. Since 2007, John has been with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, helping farmers and woodland owners learn the economic opportunities in a clean energy future, and working to ensure that bioenergy is developed sustainably. His most recent work quantifies the progress of bioenergy deployment in the Southeast, the resulting increase in demand for woody biomass, and examines possible climate impacts of these developments.


September 13, 2014
1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
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