Friday, 23 February 2018

Willie Smits - Borneo update

Dr Thomas Goreau, a climate and coastal restoration scientist, has been to visit Dr Willie Smits in Borneo. I first covered Willie Smits work way back in 2010 (see WillieSmits label) and have had some positive dialogue since on biochar and related issues. Dr Goreau has come back with warm praise and the following report...

I've embedded the 2nd YouTube, as it focuses more on biochar production (Adams retort) but the first video is also great... focusing on sugar palm as a sustainable, community based tropical industry.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Biochar research from Papua New Guinea

Great to see biochar research coming from Papua New Guinea...

Effects of biochar, urea and their co-application on the nitrogen mineralization in soil and growth of Chinese cabbage crop

Ruth Baiga and Rajashekhar Rao BK*

Department of Agriculture
The Papua New Guinea University of Technology
Private Mail Bag, Lae 411
Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea
Tel: +675 4734464, Fax: +675 4734477

* Dr. Rajashekhar Rao B.K., E-mail:

Experiments were conducted to study the influence of biochar material on N mineralization pattern from the soil applications of kunai grass (Imperata cylindrica) biochar (at 0 and 10 t ha-1) and laboratory grade urea (0, 200 and 500 kg N ha-1) and their co-application to an acid soil. The results of incubation study showed that biochar only treatment and co-application with urea at 200 kg N ha-1 could impede transformation of urea to NH4+-N. Soil application of biochar together with urea 500 kg N ha-1 produced the highest NO3--N and mineral N concentrations in the soil over 90 days. In a parallel study performed under greenhouse conditions, Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa L. ssp. chinensis L.) crop showed highest marketable fresh weight, N uptake and N use efficiency in soil treated with biochar along with urea at 500 kg N ha-1. However, soil incorporation of biochar only or combined application with urea did not offer any short-term agronomic advantages over mineral fertilizer only at 200 or 500 kg N ha-1.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

IBI monthly research compilation

Robert Gillett, IBI newsletter editor, is now compiling monthly summaries of biochar related research. These are being circulated to IBI members and are available from the members area of the IBI website. This is a great resource which was kicked off in November 2017... four months of the latest biochar research, compiled, summarised and searchable. Click on the link below to access the latest compilation as a sample. Do consider supporting IBI with your membership.

"Papers in the February list are from last month's new 'biochar' entries in Google Scholar. Quotes are from the papers, which are accessible through the links provided. These have been extracted by IBI Newsletter Editor Robert W. Gillett to keep the length of this addendum manageable, yet informative enough to prompt further investigation by readers. Emphasis was placed on highlighting new findings leading to practical application, but with the expectation that decisions will be informed by accessing the full publication.
Click here to access the full list."

Biochar in Vietnam - IBI report

A review of current biochar status in Vietnam

by Tran Thi Thu Hien

"Vietnam, an agricultural country, is the third largest in Southeast Asia region in terms of biochar potential. Each year, total biomass production from wood industry and crop cultivation is about 118 tons (Table 1), which is the mainly primary source of biochar feedstocks (Stefan Jirka, 2014). In recent years, the awareness about biochar benefits of Vietnamese people is increasing following to a global trend  as more large scale  field studies show the benefits of biochar use. ..."


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Biochar and maize study in Nepal

Biochar improves maize growth by alleviation of nutrient stress in a moderately acidic low-input Nepalese soil

Under a Creative Commons license
  Open Access


Soil limitations (moisture, nutrients, acidity) were manipulated one by one to find out why biochar improved crop growth.
Biochar addition increased soil pH, plant available P, K and soil moisture retention in this weathered Nepalese soil.
The biochar effect on plant growth was mainly due to alleviation of nutrient stress.


We studied the role of biochar in improving soil fertility for maize production. The effects of biochar on the alleviation of three potential physical-chemical soil limitations for maize growth were investigated, i.e. water stress, nutrient stress and acid stress. Experiments involved soils with two dosages of biochar (0.5% and 2% w:w), as well as ones without biochar, in combination with four different dosages of NPK fertilizer, water and lime. Biochar was produced from the invasive shrubby weed Eupatorium adenophorum using flame curtain kilns. This is the first study to alleviate one by one the water stress, nutrient stress and acid stress in order to investigate the mechanisms of biochar effects on soil fertility.
Biochar addition increased soil moisture, potassium (K) and plant available phosphorous (P-AL), which all showed significant positive relationship (p < 0.001) with above ground biomass of maize. However, biochar was much more effective at abundant soil watering (+ 311% biomass) than at water-starved conditions (+ 67% biomass), indicating that biochar did increase soil moisture, but that this was not the main reason for the positive biomass growth effects. Biochar addition did have a stronger effect under nutrient-stressed conditions (+ 363%) than under abundant nutrient application (+ 132%). Biochar amendment increased soil pH, but liming and pH had no effect on maize dry biomass, so acidity stress alleviation was not the mechanism of biochar effects on soil fertility.
In conclusion, the alleviation of nutrient stress was the probably the main factor contributing to the increased maize biomass production upon biochar addition to this moderately acidic Inceptisol.

Friday, 19 January 2018

More on Biochar & AD @BiomassMagazine

Biochar could benefit anaerobic digestion of animal manure @BiomassMagazine: New research by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists shows biochar has potential to make anaerobic digestion of animal manure a more efficient method to rid farms of waste while producing methane for energy.

see also:

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Biochar Effects on Rice Paddy: Meta-analysis

Biochar Effects on Rice Paddy: Meta-analysis


Rice is staple for nearly half of the world population. Biochar (BC) improves crop yields, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and immobilizes heavy metals in the soil. This study was aimed to meta-analyze the data from the published articles focused on the various BCs’ effects on rice yield, soil acidity, GHG emissions, and bioavailability of Cd and Pb. The data of pyrolysis temperature, application rate, and feedstock of BCs were categorized by using the MetaWin software for calculating the mean effect sizes (E) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Compared to the control, the BCs increased soil pH and rice yield by 11.8% (medium E +: 0.436 to 0.439) and 16% (large E +: 0.790 to 0.883), respectively. Applying BCs derived from different feedstocks and pyrolysis temperatures reduced N2O emissions from rice paddies (large E −: − 0.692 to − 0.863). The BCs produced at 550–600°C reduced the GHG emission with medium to large negative effects (E −: − 1.571 to − 0.413). Applications of BCs at a range of 41–50 t ha− 1 were the best for rice productivity. Applications of all types and rates of BCs showed the significant decrease of available Cd by 35.4%–38.0% in a soil and led to the Cd reduction by an average of 43.6% in rice grains compared to the untreated soils. Applying BC is a promising approach to meet the challenges of sustainable global rice production, and the properties of BCs should be fully characterized and designed depending on its needs prior to its application.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Biochar STiR in tea industry in Sri Lanka

Another report from the Sri Lanka tea industry on their successes with incorporating biochar into their soil management systems. The next important step should be the closing the loop on biomass to biochar by using the pyrolysis or gasification heat for energy utilisation. Link to article from image below...