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Can charring chicken poop save the planet?
August 11, 2009 · Posted in Environment

Cooking chicken poop sans oxygen could help fight global warming.

Charring chicken poop probably won’t save the planet on its own, but some people think charring fowl manure along with beetle-killed pine trees, corn husks and other organic matter might be an important weapon in the war on greenhouse gases. And a lot of the people who think that are hanging around Boulder this week.

Wednesday wraps up the first-ever North American Biochar Conference, which was hosted by the University of Colorado’s Center for Energy and Environmental Security.

Biochar — a fancy name for charcoal, more or less — is what’s left when organic matter is burned in a low-oxygen environment. And when you don’t have oxygen, you can’t make carbon dioxide. So after the burn, you’re left with biochar, which stays stable for a thousand years, locking up that pesky globe-warming carbon in a big black chunk. And as a bonus, the biochar makes an excellent fertilizer when added to agricultural fields.

“Humble biochar has uncharted potential for capturing and storing carbon dioxide, while simultaneously improving soil fertility and agricultural productivity,” Lakshman Guruswamy, head of CU’s Center for Energy and Environmental Security, said in a news release.

Check out Laura Snider’s story on the nation’s first biochar conference, check out the Web site for the International Biochar Initiative here, or read about the nice things Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had to say about the biochar conference.

Monsanto Resource Page

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Replies to This Discussion

My comment:

Sounds like a good idea, but manure will do the same when not charred. It simply holds the CO2 much better than bare-soil cultivation, which is the present paradigm.

I also expect much opposition from the chemical companies that produce NPK. I bet there will be debunking reports aplenty from them in the next couple of weeks. They will also talk of job losses in the industry, if this takes off. Panic!

As with all sound ecological ideas, this little fire will probably sizzle out like wet wood. Agrohomoeopathy will produce bigger plants that take up CO2 better than at present and even that is completely ignored by the MSM. It will, like this idea, receive some curious attention and fade into oblivion, if the customer does not demand it. The customer has the power by numbers, but does not realise it sufficiently to make the real difference.

Just like Monsanto has made that move to outlaw organic knowledge in Brazil. Which by the way is only for those that have signed contracts with them. That is the extent of the legislation. I was wondering if it was coincidence they did that while i am in Brazil - they might have gotten wind of it and decided to forestall me. Their experience with me in Australia was not encouraging for them.
Biochar's main benefit in agriculture is not so much as a fertiliser but in its capacity to have large surface area to hold and facilitate the transfer of water, air and nutrients to the plants. Plants growing in media rich in biochar tended to have more micro-roots.

Biochar benefit all manner of agriculture regardless of whether it is organic or inorganic.

And the trapping of carbon is real. Raw poo will not hold carbon as efficiently as carbon.
"Biochar benefit all manner of agriculture regardless of whether it is organic or inorganic."

It may be regardless of organic or inorganic, with which you probably mean organic or non-organic, but non-organic chicken poo contains antibiotics and other medicinal substances which have a negative effect on soil microbial life. Organic is always better.

inorganic in the english language refers to sources of nutrients not derived from organic sources, such as NPK, which are fossil fuel based.

"Raw poo will not hold carbon as efficiently as carbon."

That sentence makes no sense to me. Probably you mean biochar. Moreover, CO2 is fixed by plants into the soil and raw poo is seldom used anyway, because it generally burns the plants. It is really counterproductive to use raw poo. All farmers let their manure mature to remove the ammonia, which converts to nitrogen in the dung heap as it matures. While ammonia is one of the main sources for nitrogen, it is by itself not conducive to plant life.
The biochar mechanism in aiding the growth of plants does not depend on the kind of fertilisers that are added to the soil. Biochar is a facilitator mechanism. And the best part is that it can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and almost permanently kept it on the ground to continue to facilitate plant growth.

Raw poo will breakdown over time and much of the carbon will go back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

What I am saying is that biochar is not a fad and there are real benefits from using it. Farmers in china had used this for ages but somehow they had stopped using it. Before I read about biochar a local farmer told me about how "charcoal" could help in the growth of plants. I decided to make about 50kg of biochar using rice husks. I used it to grow baby corns as compared with other soil mixes and the initial growth was really dramatic. I read of the research on this but I have to see it for myself.

It does help.
Charcoal is actully a great source of phosphorus, hence your dramatic results.
I never spoke about raw poo in my post that replied to the article. Therefore i qualified it further to explain that raw poo is never used due to its ammonium content, which burns plants. Here is the quote:

"but manure will do the same when not charred."

I spoke about manure, which has been used for 1000s of years. The word potassium for instance comes from the ancient Egyprians, where the bull was a sacred animal and where camel dung was processed in giant dung heaps, to assist the rice growers along the Nile delta. Pot-ash was the product used from charred camel dung, hence potassium.

The history of agriculture is full of examples of the use of manure - both charred and not charred.
Llink to What is BIOCHAR? North American Biochar Conference


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