Biochar experiment

15 Oct

Biochar experiment
So we have had this bag of biochar for a little while now and are considering the best thing to do with it. We know that it will need to be charged with microbes and mineral nutrients — the question is what is the best way to do that? Our guide is a recent article in the July 2013 issue of Acres magazine by David Yarrow.  He recommends a 4 step process of charging:

1) Moisten the char.  Get it wet but not soggy.  (This takes more water than you might think it should!  The stuff is very absorbent!)
2) Micronize the char.  A mix of dust and rice size bits is best.  Your char might need crushing but ours was just right already.
3) Mineralize the soil.  The char is like a battery waiting to be charged.  If you don’t add minerals at this step it may rob your soil of needed nutrients and thereby also rob your plants.  We are doing 3 different trials to see which method of mineralization works the best.
4) Microbial innoculation.  We mixed our char with equal parts of semi-composted spent mushroom bedding and a few shakes of mycorrhizal inoculant.  But the compost is really just food for the worms that we added to each bin.  The plan is to let the worms work over the winter, eating the char, minerals and compost.

Wet Biochar
For step 3, we have 3 different mineralization trials going.

1) Mineralized with the OrganiCalc recommendation for our native soil, assuming we’ll spread the mix ½” thick and work it in to the top 6” of soil.
2) Mineralized with MiracleGro plus the OrganiCalc recommendation for gypsum (there is no calcium or sulfur in MiracleGro and our soil is quite low in both).  The amount of MircaleGro was enough to about match the N supplied by the OrganiCalc recommendation, about 5x the single application rate on the label.  Why MiracleGro?  It is a (sort of) balanced source of soluble nutrients and should not have trouble migrating into the char pores.  There is no organic OMRI approved substitute that we know of.
3) No mineralization. We will probably add the minerals later during incorporation of the biochar into the soil.

The plan is to put half on “new” unamended garden and the other half on the existing garden, so 6 trial plots in all.


2 Responses to Biochar experiment

  1. Pingback: Biochar with worms « Grow Abundant Gardens

  2. John Herrick

    October 22, 2018 at 6:24 AM

    Why not use Sea-Crop for an “OMRI approved substitute”?

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