Bio char Kiln Fabrication and Operation
During 2011 I fabricated two types of charcoal kilns and used them to generate around 1000 pounds of bio char from wood. The char is being evaluated in several ways; direct application to soil, mixing with composted manure, and incorporated into compost heaps. With the new growing season approaching, the various methods will be documented and evaluated. Additional char will be generated and its use dictated by results from the ongoing studies.
2012 objectives are to continue generating bio char, use it as a soil amendment, hopefully discover the best way to improve soils with char, and document the results.
During 2011 the objectives set out in the original proposal were accomplished. Kilns were built and used to generate sizable quantities of bio char. The char was incorporated into test plots and will be evaluated in the coming growing season. I gave a talk at the NCR-SARE Farmers Forum at the National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference in Columbia, Missouri in November on the progress to that point.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
2012 will be an interesting year for this project. With the new growing season the test plots prepared last year can be observed and additional tests will be instigated. Already even at this early state of the new season there are exciting differences in the test plots. The plot with a mixture of char and composted manure that was incorporated into the soil last fall shows remarkable improvement in soil friability over the control plot and exhibits improvement even over other plots with just composted manure or char only. A spring cover crop of legumes has been sown and the performance of it will be documented.