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Saved by Philip Small
on May 21, 2008 at 7:48:59 am

Welcome to the Gardening with Biochar FAQ!


1.0 What is Biochar?

Biochar is charcoal formed by low temperature pyrolysis.  Ideally it is made in a way that achieves maximal woodgas condensate retention, and can be infused with nutrient byproducts, such as nitrogen and calcioum as achieved by EPRIDA.

1.01 How does biochar relate to agrichar and to Terra Preta?

1.02 What is pyrolysis?

Pyrolysis is combustion in the presence of a restricted oxygen supply.  This yield combustable gases (aka syngas, wood gas, and producer gas) charcoal and ash.

1.03 Can I substitute other forms of charcoal for biochar?

Yes, up to a point. Low temperature pyrolysis, maximal woodgas condensate retention, and infusion with nutrients from pyrolisis gases is ideal, but that is not to imply that using simple charcoal won't produce some of the same benefits

1.04 Is biochar made from hardwood best?

Maybe. At first we were convinced the

2.0 How do I Get Biochar?

You can purchase biochar, purchase a charcoal substitute, or you can make it yourself.

2.1 Where can I purchase Biochar?

Biochar manufaturers can be located by going to their websites at xxxx. Currently biochar is in very short supply and is being made available only to research projects. The alternative is to purchase charcoal and use it as a biochar substitute.  Cowboy brand hardwood charcoal is available in the United States in 8.8 and 20 pund bags.  By the pallet, about 400 pounds, it is available for about 70 cents per pound.  Fr larger amounts, coco.......

2.2 How do I make Biochar...?

Home pyrolysis is pretty easy to accomplish.  You can use either a kiln approach, whereby the air is restricted at the end of the burn, or in a retort process, whereby air supply is restricted to the target feed stock for the duration of the burn.

2.2.01 ... on a small scale?

2.2.02 ... on  moderate scale?

2.2.03 ... on a large scale?

2.2.04 What can I burn to make biochar?

Any reasonably dry and clean burnable feedstock will work.  Woody plant material is the primary candidate.  Other materials can be used conditionally.

2.2.05 What do I need to consider in making biochar from other than woody plant materials?

The two considerations are, what contaminants are being carried off as pyrolisis gas during the burn, and what contaminants are present in the ash component of the charcoal produced.

2.2.06 How much yield can I expect?

About 20 to 60 percent yield is a normal range.

2.2.07 What refractory materials can I use to make a kiln? a retort?

2.2.08 What gases does pyrolysis produce?

2.2.09 How much heat does pyrolysis produce?


2.3 What do I do if I make more biochar than I can use?


3.0 How do I prepare the biochar once I've made it?

3.01 Do I need to crush and screen the Biochar?

3.02 What are some ways to crush and screen Biochar?

3.03 What can I do to make the biochar easier to crush?

3.04 Are there better things than water to soak the biochar in?

3.03 Can I add biocharto compost first?

3.04  Will biochar harm the worms in my compost?

3.05  Can I use biochar in my composting toilet?


4.0 How do I apply Biochar?

4.01 What materials combine well with biochar for application?

4.02 Can I bury it deep?

4.03 Can I mix it within the root zone?

4.04 Can I use it for mulch?


5.0 What happens after I apply biochar?

5.02 Does biochar affect soil pH?

5.03 Does biochar improve plant growth?

5.04 Does biochar affect soil vitality?

5.05 How much improved plant growth can I expect?

5.06 How much carbon dioxide does sequestered biochar offset?

5.07 How much nitrous oxide formation does biochar prevent?





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