Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New NRCS CSP Enhancement Supports Biochar Production

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has a program to support conservation practices, called the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). From the NRCS website:

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) presents a significant shift in how the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides conservation program payments. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for operation-level environmental benefits they produce. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment.

The CSP has been re-designed in recent years and is now more friendly to smaller landowners. However, there is still a high bar to enter the program, and it requires landowners to work closely with NRCS staff to design conservation programs for the land.

The essence of the program is an annual payment to reward conservation efforts and encourage additional conservation activities. These activities are also called "enhancements" because they enhance the ongoing conservation practices of the landowner.

From the NRCS website:
Enhancements are management activities that go above and beyond the minimum conservation practice standard requirements helping the producer achieve a higher level of conservation.

A new NRCS CSP Enhancement now supports biochar production as part of larger activities around vegetation management. Here is a summary of the new biochar enhancement:

Enhancement Code: E384135Z
  • Resource Concern: DEGRADED PLANT CONDITION
  • Cause of Resource Concern: Wildfire Hazard, Excessive Biomass Accumulation
  • Title of Enhancement: Biochar production from woody residue
  • Enhancement Description: Utilizes woody debris remaining after fuel reduction harvests or wildfires to create biochar. Biochar stores carbon and is a useful soil amendment that improves SOM and water-holding capacity.
Here is the list of Enhancements:  Download Activity_Lists

And a detailed description of the E384135Z Biochar Enhancement:  Download E384135Z update

The payment for this enhancement is on a per acre basis. Payment is listed on line 335 of this NRCS payment schedule:   Download FY18_CStwP_01192018

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, landowners will have to have a good idea of how to implement the biochar activities supported. This will require knowledge of how to use biochar kilns, how to prepare and stage feedstocks, and how to integrate biochar logistics into a logging or vegetation management plan.

Wilson Biochar Associates produced a recent report for the North Dakota Forest Service as an example of how to estimate resource needs and costs for this kind of biochar activity. This report was based on experiences working with UBET members on various projects, including our Drew Veg Project:
WBA Converting Shelterbelt to Biochar-1 Download WBA Converting Shelterbelt to BiocharLoRes

UBET and WBA work featured on Fire Science Network

Southern Rockies Fire Science Network has created a page of materials based on the work of UBET and Wilson Biochar Associates. It's great to have these all in one place, accessible to fire science professionals!

Here is the link: http://www.southernrockiesfirescience.org/fuel-treatment-test/2017/6/21/hack-the-carbon-cycle-to-keep-smoke-out-of-the-atmosphere-with-biochar-burning-practices

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Biochar Along Takilma Rd Today

Here's a link to today's biochar pictures https://photos.app.goo.gl/HdGxc8wZISh5MX8C2 We had a crew 6 of working at Art & Jude's. Jeff, Kristin and Monty worked along Takilma rd and made 3 batches - a bit less than 3 cubic yards of biochar. Art, Jude and Chas took the tractor kilns over to the back pasture and made another 2 cubic yards. Wood was a bit wet and smokier than we would have liked, but still not too bad. We will be back by Takilma Rd just north of the Page Creek turn off tomorrow if people want to come by and see what we are doing. Next week will burn several days at other nearby properties, making biochar for the landowners.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Conservation Innovation Grant Progress Report

On November 9, Don Morrison and I travelled to Salem, Oregon to present our work on the Conservation Innovation Grant to NRCS officials. Here is a link to the presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PQdMr8jSeTKa6k2LgVqfjSmGXmc6jDwC/view?usp=sharing

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Big Win at Drew Biochar

One of the big winners from our Drew Biochar Project is forest soil organisms of the present and future. The standard alternative to our approach of burning forest slash material in kilns is to pile and burn it in place. Hundreds of small burn scars can really have an impact on forest soils and their inhabitants. The picture below tells the story: From: Slash from the past: Rehabilitating pile burn scars. Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 15. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Gregory's Video of Drew Biochar Project