Monday, October 31, 2016

Another GREAT Biochar Expo!

According to UBET President Scott McKain, this was UBET's 7th Biochar Expo event. The group has learned a lot over those years. Since biochar is such new and unknown technique, it has been invaluable to have this strong learning network for discovery and sharing of knowledge and resources.

For the first time, UBET held the Expo on the Umpqua Community College Campus, and UCC biology professor Ken Carloni spoke to the group about some biochar projects his students are working on. Several students attended the expo and we hope they will continue to investigate biochar as part of their science education.

After a morning of presentations on various aspects of biochar - its impact on soils, plants and water, and the potential to mitigate climate change - we reconvened outside near the UCC garden plots to see the new kilns that the UCC Welding Department fabricated for us and fire a few of them up. We also saw some new innovative designs from UBET members Den Morgan, Scott McKain and Don Morrison.

A new TLUD (Top Lit Up Draft) gasifier design from Scott
WigWam Kiln and Ring of Fire Kiln made by UBET members.
We can make biochar in a Weber grill - perfect for small gardens in town.
A stack of brand new four foot wide kilns made by UCC Welding Department
Thank you welding students and instructors! We love these kilns.
UBET members demonstrated the two-stage method for starting the pyramid-shaped flame cap kilns. Begin by building a loose pile or rick of smaller material in the kiln. Light it on top. Keeping a flame on top at all times will burn up the smoke for a clean burn. Once the initial charge has burned down to glowing coals, add new material one layer at a time until the kiln is full. When all the flames are gone, everything is charred and you can quench with water.
Stack a loose pile or rick in the kiln with small kindling on top
Light the pile on the top. Always keep a flame on top to burn the smoke.
Let the pile burn down to glowing coals and then add more. We did not have time to fill the kiln - that would have taken several hours.

Quench with water when you are done. The new kilns have drains to let the water out.

We made some biochar!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

UBET members, together with Wilson Biochar Associates and the USDA Agricultural Research Service at OSU, conducted a pot trial last spring that compared two kinds of high carbon boiler ash with biochar and lime. We presented the results as a poster at the US Biochar Initiative Symposium in Corvallis last August. The poster is too big to print out and share, so we recently compiled the information into a document that is easier to read. You can download the pdf file here:

Pot trial using ryegrass to determine effects of boiler ash, lime or biochar

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

RESCHEDULED - Biochar Expo - October 29

We have a new date for the 2016 Biochar Expo: Saturday, October 29, 10:00 to 3:00. We will be at UCC at the PE Building, room 10. 

Directions: as you approach campus take the first left and follow the signs to Physical Education. See campus map:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Biochar Expo CANCELLED

We are sorry to announce that the Biochar Expo scheduled for Saturday Oct. 15 at UCC has been cancelled due to weather. There are too many bad weather travel warnings to ignore. We hope to reschedule this event. Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Report from Mike on Duchess Plots

With 2.4 inches of rain since 10/1/16 the grass is starting to grow.  Mowed all the dried weeds and mulched dried cut grass from harvest in June.  30 year average rainfall for October is 2.73 inches, could triple that by next week. - Mike Burke

You can read the 2016 trial results analysis from OSU here:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Drew Veg Biochar Project

On Wednesday, UBET members visited the Drew Veg Biochar Project site. What a pile of material! We are all thinking about how to process it with hand crews and small kilns. It seems overwhelming, but Don Morrison and Kelpie Wilson worked out the numbers on paper and figured a professional woods crew of 6 laborers and 2 equipment operators could do the job in 6 ten-hour days. See the spreadsheet below. Here are some pictures:
The first of many mountains of biochar feedstock at Drew Veg Biochar
This slash goes on for a quarter mile of spur road.
You are looking at 15 tonnes of biochar, mate.
And here are the numbers, below the fold: