Biochar presentation spurs conversation

More hands on demonstrations planned in future

OROVILLE – Biochar – Capturing value from waste biomass by turning it into fine charcoal that can be used for other purposes, was the subject of a presentation made by Gloria Flora in Oroville last week, one of many she is making around the stat.

Flora, who owns her own farm, is getting the word out about biochar as a way to use ag and other waste products generated on farms, ranches and forests and saving money while doing so. She explained how biochar can be used to enhance soil to retain water for better plant growth, especially when mixed with compost. The biochar can trap things that are bad for the environment, like heavy metals and carbon dioxide, CO2. By trapping the CO2 in the soil it is not released into the atmosphere, she said, reducing polution.

Flora, from Montana, is Executive Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions.

Sustainable Obtainable Solutions. She spoke about how ancient civilizations in the Amazon were able to produce enough food to feed large cities, despite having less than perfect soil by turning the waste biomass into biochar to enhance the soil. There are many processes for turning the waste into biochar, both highly technical and home built. The process, called pyrolysis, can be used to generate electricity and provide heat for homes, industries and whole cities, according to Flora. It can also be used to make biofuels like syngas and bio oil.

Flora emphasized that the process can be done on a small scale and can help farmers and others who find they have biomass they need to get rid of without having to pay fees to haul it off or put in landfills. She showed several examples of converting the biomass into biochar, many of them simple, that can be used on farms and ranches.

While only about 10 people attended the Oroville meeting, a few were somewhat familiar with the process and wanted to learn more about how to do it. Flora said that future meetings will take place outside where some of these technics for making and using biochar can be demonstrated.

More information can be found at www.biochar-us-org.