AuthorTopic: For the Permaculture Teachers Lurking Out There  (Read 1022 times)

Offline Eddie

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For the Permaculture Teachers Lurking Out There
« on: January 20, 2016, 06:45:16 AM »
or anybody else who knows....

I've been doing research this week on biochar. I've decided to make some biochar using the open cone pit technique, because I have a huge amount of dry brush on my place, as well as a huge amount of live Ashe juniper that I intend to cut down and put through the wood chipper.

The thing is that I already have alkaline soil. So my first question is:

Does anybody have experience using biochar in the kind of alluvial (Krum clay and silt) soil we have here in central Texas in our Pecan bottoms?

I have read one scientific abstract from China that reported no crop improvements, but I didn't put much faith in it. I do worry about making my soil even more alkaline than it already is. However, my guess is that biochar's benefits would far outweigh any negatives. I actually doubt that the soil pH would be measurably different.

My other question has to do with using the juniper (cedar) for biochar substrate. I can find absolutely nothing on the web as to the advisability of using it. I know the live bushes give off alleopaths that kill other plants.

Any takers? I might try posting this on the local permie site.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: For the Permaculture Teachers Lurking Out There
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2016, 02:22:42 PM »
I got one reply already from the local permie bulletin board, but I'm bumping this up, hoping somebody else will be able to advise me on my plan.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: For the Permaculture Teachers Lurking Out There
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2016, 05:18:17 PM »
or anybody else who knows....

I've been doing research this week on biochar. I've decided to make some biochar using the open cone pit technique, because I have a huge amount of dry brush on my place, as well as a huge amount of live Ashe juniper that I intend to cut down and put through the wood chipper.

The thing is that I already have alkaline soil. So my first question is:

Does anybody have experience using biochar in the kind of alluvial (Krum clay and silt) soil we have here in central Texas in our Pecan bottoms?

I have read one scientific abstract from China that reported no crop improvements, but I didn't put much faith in it. I do worry about making my soil even more alkaline than it already is. However, my guess is that biochar's benefits would far outweigh any negatives. I actually doubt that the soil pH would be measurably different.

My other question has to do with using the juniper (cedar) for biochar substrate. I can find absolutely nothing on the web as to the advisability of using it. I know the live bushes give off alleopaths that kill other plants.

Any takers? I might try posting this on the local permie site.
Sorry I missed this message when it was current.

Regarding using biochar in a clay/silt soil, you are probably already losing the benefit of the biggest advantage biochar has, a high cation exchange capacity, because your soil already has that.

If it is well washed, the biochar should not raise the pH, being essentially pure carbon.  If a significant amount of wood ash remains, it would raise the pH.  In that sense, compost would be a better option, as the final result are humic acids which lower the pH.  However....

I have never heard of well-pyrolyzed biochar retaining any chemical properties like allellopathy from the parent material.  With compost on the other hand that happens very frequently.  Mineral properties do carry over, so biochar made from arsenic-laden bracken fern would be a particularly bad idea for a soil amendment.

Bottom line, I see juniper biochar as a mostly innocuous way to lighten the soil, giving it more pore space for air and water.  Compost in general will probably be superior for fertility, but you wouldn't want to use juniper for that.
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

Offline Eddie

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Re: For the Permaculture Teachers Lurking Out There
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 11:30:00 AM »
I forgot to say thanks for this, JD. I do appreciate it.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

 

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