Biochar production & application

Has anyone tried experimenting with biochar production and/or application in their farms?

There has been a response on facebook, I think you will need to login to access it. … all&v=wall

thanks, did not realize there was a FB page as well

[font=courier]Hi Brijesh,[/font]

[font=courier]          Have tried bio-char. The plants I tried it on where the ones with predominant surface-roots. It did not produce any specatcular result in terms of growth or nutrition ( as expected). The intention was to provide extra lodging spaces for the microbes. Have not seen anything extra because of them, may be becuase my soil already had a lot humus build-up and mulch. Subsequently gave it up , as I felt it was too time consuming and laborious. Maybe time for another trial, now that you have reminded us of bio-char again! But bio -char did show a better result in soft tissued short-term crops like vegetables.[/font]


did you make it yourself? if then, how? perhaps a trail is in order i.e. one tree plant with bio char (farm made), another with bio char (commercial) and third without any…maybe this will give an indication of advantages, disadvantages (not just the tree growth and nutrition) but probably could look at the siol analysis around the plantinng area after 6 months to one year for all three trees?

[font=courier]Yes, done in-house. It’s no rocket science, and a pretty simple process.[/font]
[font=courier]Here’s a pictorial illustration of how it can be done in the backyard[/font]


[size=2][font=courier]Some background into my trial and the thoughts that led me to it.[/font][/size]
[size=2][font=courier]Was bitten by the terra-preta bug about 3 years ago, when I was exploring different ways to keep improving my soil. My interest in it was due to the following understanding of biochar[/font][/size]
[font=courier]Bio- char is different and much superior to the regular charcoal as here the biomass is burnt in the absence of air unlike regular charcoal. The process is known as pyrolysis, and the carbon thus formed remains stable in the soil, increasing it’s organic carbon content, aeration, water retention as well as the increased capacity for microbial population.[/font]
[font=courier]Here, nutrition or plant growth were least in my mind, the aim was to increase the organic carbon content in the soil. So it was never my intention to apply biochar alone and wait for  build-up. Bio-char coupled with my regular soil building exercises like microbial cultures etc was the idea.[/font]
[font=courier]So, tried bio-char in different plots. Couple of areas where I tried the OC  content was around 3.5 %. Here regular set of practices like mulching, Jeevamrutham etc happen continuously. After 1 year, the organic carbon percentage went upto 4%.[/font]
[font=courier]The increase upto 4% happened in the plot where bio-char was applied as well as the plot where it was never applied. I repeat,[/font]
[font=courier]Jeevamrutham application and mulching were done in both these plots[/font]
[font=courier]Another trial was conducted in an area where garden plants and vegetables were grown. OC content here was about 1%. Bio-char application increased the OC content to 1.3%, in a nearby area Jeevamrutha and mulching were practiced , there the OC content shot upto 1.6 %. Of course it has to remembered that Jeevamrutha application ahs a cycle to it, the weeds that grow profusely after application are slashed back to the soil.[/font]
[font=courier]In all these these trails, biochar was never buried under the soil, it was broadcast, roughly at two handfuls in the area around each plant. The readings were for  4 applications of Jeevamrutha/ and 2 rounds of slash weeding against 4 applications of bio-char.[/font]
[font=courier]So at this stage I felt that I has easier and more effective options than biochar for soil building.[/font]
[font=courier]Before concluding, let me also add that the soil analysis and readings I took, serve only as mere indictors and they were done just out curiosity. Don’t rely on them completely and rate soils based on them.[/font]


why is land so expensive in kerala? i’ll give you and others a idea of what i intend to do

  1. obtain land
  2. build it for 3-4 years (using a combination of permaculture, organic, natural etc)
  3. once i am happy that the farm is self sustainable, i’ll relocate to the farm permanently and take up full time cultivation

i had a choice of starting to cultivate right away but i have decided to go the long hard way as i can probably endure for 5 years or so

hopefully my farm will resemble a forest garden or a small ecosystem in itself, my family and me are hoping that evenutally the only major things we will procure from outside after a couple of years would be oil, tea, coffee, sugar. majority of the produce fruits, vegetables, rice, poultry, eggs, meat and milk will be from our farm or parambu



It looks like you have left no stone unturned in your pursuits, cowherd!?

[size=3][font=courier]            Going off topic, ( Mods feel free to remove/delete if necessary) Mallu-land as it appears in the map, it’s a small thin strip, with amazing bio-diversity, fertility and rounded climate, I may add… The area has everything, the Sun, the rain, with hardly any barren stretches as seen in other states, and is green almost everywhere.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=courier]          And then the population pressure, not only by volume and numbers but by attitude as well. Typically, each Malayali family wants a mime of 10-25 cents of land with an independent house, to feel secure and settled. The idea of living on rent does not appeal to most. Contrast this with some the Gujarati community settled in Kerala for years, most of them don’t prefer own houses and choose to live on rent. They feel comfortable when the stay on rent, as it does not make sense to them to block that kind of money into a house. They’d rather put that money into business, rotate it several folds per year and take the returns.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=courier]            The absence of strict laws or the bad implementation of existing laws make it easy to convert agricultural land to residential or commercial land, this makes land more attractive to investors who buy abandoned farms and cut them into plots. Not to forget the Malyali NRIs  in the ‘gelf’ and in “Amaerikkaa’ who don’t have too many options while thinking of investing their phoren bucks home. No major inustrialisation, businesses or opportunities, and land presents a much safer choice. All these make land in Kerala much more expensive than comparable land in the neighboring Karnataka or Tamil nadu.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=courier]Your plan sounds good; playing the absentee-landlord might be biggest challenge for you for the first few years.Anyways, better than not being land-lord at all! All the best.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=courier]Chandra, trying out different methods, is an easier, not- so- boring way of updating, and keeping the learning process going![/font][/size]

btw am a malayalee as well…pillai  8)  and if i get the investment i am hoping to get then i’ll relocate in a year or so after the land buying…in any case i plan to be on the farm everymonth as i have a flexible work schedule going on with my employers at the moment

cowherd, there is a guy in tamilnadu who has done wonders with biochar and biochar compost supposedly, i am posting some pics of this establishment that i found but there is no information on what he did / achieved (i believe he did wonders otherwise his stuff would not form a case study in farmer innovations on the TNAU website)

on another note, i remember reading somewhere that the application methodology of biochar for trees is totally different…something to do with digging the ring perimeter of the tree etc etc, cant remember fully the content or the source…if it comes back then i’ll post

I am farmer located inChitradurga,Karnataka.I using Jeevamrita in my farm.Is too much Jeevamrita is harmful for the soil and plants.