Increasing forestry awareness while introducing biochar production and application methods to Alaska

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2024: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Region: Western
State: Alaska
Principal Investigator:
DeShana York
University of Alaska Fairbanks


  • Agronomic: barley


  • Crop Production: fertilizers, forestry, forest/woodlot management, no-till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Energy: byproduct utilization
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, new enterprise development, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, sustainability measures, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    Hazardous fuels are a major problem in wildlands in Alaska and
    throughout the West. Foresters traditionally pile and burn
    material from fuels reduction projects, but air quality
    restrictions and longer fire seasons have made open pile burning
    much more difficult. Biochar kilns are a new approach to
    hazardous fuels management that directly addresses forest and
    woodland health, fire resilience, sustainable forest management,
    biomass utilization and fire recovery, while directly addressing
    climate change by sequestering carbon in a durable form in soil.
    This concept is being adopted across the US and this project will
    introduce this approach to Alaskans. Perhaps the most accessible
    and ‘shovel ready’ approach to durably sequestering carbon is by
    producing biochar with low-tech, in-woods methods and applying
    the biochar to soils. Compared to the traditional approach of
    open pile burning this method reduces air quality impacts and is
    less damaging to soils than the extreme heat of open pile
    burning. Through this project we intend to improve technical,
    social, and economic knowledge and abilities of forest and
    rangeland managers and owners. This is needed because forest and
    rangeland resources in Alaska are negatively affected by drought,
    wildfire, invasive species, insects, diseases, and development.
    This project will focus on biochar production and application on
    Alaska farmland, and evaluating the benefits of biochar for
    agricultural production.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Produce biochar in-woods in Alaska with low-tech methods

    Apply biochar to farms in Alaska

    Teach people how to make biochar with accessible flame-cap
    biochar kilns in Alaska

    Teach producers how to apply biochar to their farmlands in Alaska

    Study the effects of biochar application on Alaska farmlands

    Sequester carbon

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.