The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

What is biochar?

Although we clearly got a lot out of visiting Abingdon Organics, our real purpose was to listen to several biochar experts talk about charcoal's potential as a soil amendment.  The seminar turned out to be the most exciting presentation I'd attended in several years, so I was glad that Mark filmed the whole thing.  Once we got home, I edited the video down into bite-size segments for your lunchtime enjoyment this week.

Today's video is an introduction to biochar.  What is it?  Does it occur in nature?  Is biochar the same as terra preta?  Watch the video and find out.

Our homemade chicken waterer saves work in coops and tractors.

This post is part of our Biochar Videos lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Could not hear speakers except the woman.

Does this mean that my neighbors, who burned off their fields every Good Friday, were enhancing the soil?

Comment by Errol Mon Aug 30 14:34:55 2010

I'm just glad it played. I've been fighting Youtube all day...

Every computer has a different grasp of volume. You might want to turn up the volume of your speakers if you have them. If not, you might want to add external speakers --- my little laptop's speakers put out so little sound I'm always having to plug in headphones.

Biochar is a bit different than just burning off your field. The ash left behind from burning off a field was created in the presence of oxygen, so it tends to lack the carbon structure that makes biochar so useful. In addition, when you add anything with such small particle size to the top of soil, most of it tends to wash away in the first rain. Which is not to say that the plants don't probably get some immediate nourishment from the burning, but it won't be a long-lived effect like biochar.

Comment by anna Mon Aug 30 14:49:05 2010


I've been following this for some time. Have my own small unit. Been to demos and workshops.

This site covers alot of info on it:

Best hands on demo:

Best wishes Ron

Comment by Anonymous Mon Aug 30 16:50:29 2010
Ron --- I'd be very curious to see what your biochar unit is like. We definitely want to make one since there's quite a bit of biomass that goes to waste on our farm, from blighted tomatoes, to colored junk mail, to the huge weeds that die back every winter along our driveway. But we want to make something relatively simple, perhaps like the next stage above the toucan version.
Comment by anna Mon Aug 30 17:50:09 2010

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