Monday, October 5, 2015

South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership and Wilson Biochar Associates Announce New Biochar Grant and White Paper on Biochar and Forests


Tiller, Oregon – October 6, 2015.  South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership (SURCP) has received a grant award from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of $75,000 through the NRCS statewide Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program.

The grant award will support SURCP’s biochar project:  “On-Farm Production and Use of Biochar for Composting with Manure.” The two-year project will work with farmers and ranchers to transform two problem waste sources -- woody debris and animal manure -- into compost that will improve farm soils. SURCP has contracted with Kelpie Wilson of Wilson Biochar Associates to manage and direct the program.

Together with UBET (Umpqua Biochar Education Team), SURCP’s committee of biochar volunteers, Wilson will conduct workshops at participating farms to show farmers how to make biochar from brush piles and use it to help reduce odors in barns and accelerate the conversion of manure to high-quality compost.

Kelpie Wilson said: “I am thrilled to be working with the UBET group. I have come to know them through their annual Biochar Expo event as individuals who are highly dedicated to discovering and implementing sustainable farming practices that can enhance our lives. The idea for this biochar farm project came from UBET.”

The project will work with at least eight small farms and ranches throughout southern Oregon in Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties. In addition to making biochar and compost, the project will also perform material quality tests on the biochar and the compost and conduct plant growth studies using the biochar-compost.

SURCP President Stanley Petrowski said: “We see biochar as a very important and promising tool to restore the ecological functions of our forests and fields. This on-farm biochar project will demonstrate ways to make and use biochar that are economically viable for the small farmer.”

To make biochar from woody debris, the project will use simple biochar kilns called “Flame Cap Kilns.” The technology is described in a recent white paper that SURCP commissioned from Wilson Biochar Associates titled: “Biochar for Forest Restoration in the Western United States.”

SURCP is also working to bring biochar production into the forest as part of its Elk Creek South Umpqua Restoration Project. SURCP asked Wilson Biochar Associates to write a summary of the research literature on biochar and forests to provide background information for a plan to use biochar in restoration projects. The resulting paper “Biochar for Forest Restoration in the Western United States” is now available to download.

“We are very pleased with the caliber of the paper that Kelpie Wilson wrote for us on biochar and forests,” said Paige Heron, SURCP Executive Director. “She has provided the intellectual underpinnings for our work with biochar, showing that charcoal is a natural part of forest soils that has an important ecological role to play.”

Stanley Petrowski said: “The paper from Wilson Biochar Associates outlines some new methods for making biochar in the woods that may prove to be economically viable. We are now pursuing additional funding to provide in-woods demonstrations of some of these biochar production technologies.“

UBET’s annual Biochar Expo takes place on October 17th at the Master Gardeners Discovery Garden in River Forks Park near Roseburg, OR from 9:30 am till mid-afternoon. Kelpie Wilson will present information about the CIG grant and the Biochar and Forests white paper. UBET volunteers will also demonstrate various biochar kilns. View more information and the complete schedule at

Stanley Petrowski (President, SURCP): 541-825-3070 or (541) 670-6801;
Paige Heron (Exec. Dir, SURCP): 541-699-7270;
Kelpie Wilson (WBA): 541-592-3083 or 541-218-9890;

SURCP is a community-based 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to restoration ecology and sustainable stewardship in the South Umpqua river basin. We are very active in constructive collaborative restoration projects with many partners. These multifaceted projects and initiatives are supported by SURCP Directors and community members through our organizational committees and the collaborative process. The goal of our service is that ecological, environmental, social and economic stability is established in our region.

About WBA
Wilson Biochar Associates is a consultancy owned by Kelpie Wilson. Wilson is a mechanical engineer, project developer and writer who has worked in the biochar field since 2008. Her contracts and clients have included work for the International Biochar Initiative, Washington Department of Ecology and many biochar companies. Wilson also has an extensive background in forestry and biodiversity protection resulting from her twelve years (five as executive director) with the Siskiyou Regional Education Project, an Oregon forest advocacy group.

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