From Living Web Farms in Mills River, North Carolina

Great introduction to making clean biochar lead by Bob Wells, soil scientist Jon Nilsson and Patryk Battle.


Method One

From Kelpie's Web site: Green your Head

Since she wrote the article below, Kelpie discovered another way to make biochar from the brush pile, it's a little easier to do if like me, you get sprinkled on by rain while you're burning your pile.


Nice introduction to the practice and history of Biochar, and great pictures of master gardeners using biochar + compost blends.

Jock Gill, IBI, USBI, Biochar Northwest and NASA

Posted here: http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/archives/1316

A lesson for Students Grades 9 - 12 in Biochar:
This is an interdisciplinary activity for grades 9 – 12, revolving around use of biochar to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable agriculture / horticulture. It involves climate science, plant science, and chemistry. Advanced students will also encounter some elementary combustion science and thermodynamics, soil science, and botany. The activity includes hands-on construction and use of a device to make biochar, as well as planning and conducting a controlled experiment to test the effects of biochar on plants in their native soil.

On the Practical Biology web site, there's a nicely done lesson plan that lays out how to do biochar, and biochar + compost tests with Broad Beans

Lesson plan link:


This lesson plan talks kids through laying out a plot test with proper controls and blending biochar.
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Richard Haard, Bellingham, Washington October, 2010

I've been working with Michael Pilarski, Skeeter of Friends of the Trees http://www.friendsofthetrees.net/ , in North Central Washington to produce a series of videos about his work to create sustainable small farming projects. In this set of 12 videos Skeeter demonstrates his method to create a family agroforestry farm under 5 acres. These farms produce much food and some income for operator support. Most important it creates forested, sheltered, self reproducing ecosystem. Two of these videos, Sunny Pine and Whispering Pines illustrate examples 14 and 28 years old that are still producing annual food and medicinal products. Over this period these agroforestry projects have developed into vivid green oasis of cooling shade in this shrub steppe semi-desert ecosystem of his home in north central Washington.

Making sustainable food/forest systems has been become a life long mission for this man. Skeeter is well known to many of us in the Northwestern USA as lecturer on permaculture and organizer of barter fairs and tree exchanges over the last 30 years.


David Yarrow, May 2010

Using Biochar in Soil

Preparation & Application

Biochar Preparation

Applying raw biochar to soil can inhibit plant growth one or two
years while microbes inhabit the char, form diversified, stable,
functional communities, and gather balanced mineral supplies.
Microbes also consume tar residues that inhibit water absorbtion.
Several weeks to a few months are needed to age char for
soil. Proper preparation can reduce this time to two weeks, and
reduce char volume needed for vigorous plant response. Four
simple steps assure rapid response, high yield and healthy plants.


Biochar’s first service to soil is water digestion, retention and
slow release from its sponge-like micropore matrix. Char must
soak up water to be an effective substrate for microbial cultures
and mobilize minerals for ion exchange with plant roots. To
moisten char, hydrophobic residues must be broken down and
removed—a task done mostly by microbes.

PAH is an acronym for Poly-Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), a chemical compound that contains more than one fused benzene ring. They are commonly found in petroleum fuels, coal products, and tar; e.g. Naphthalene, Anthracene, Phenanthrene

For more information take a look at the EUGRIS Portal for Soil and Water Management in Europe:
(it includes references to peer reviewed articles)

Some of the chemistry is nicely outlined in this wiki article:
and this more comprehensive detail : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon

Soil Secrets: Humic Acids
Dr. Melendez, Soil Secrets, Courtesy Daved Yarrow December 2008

The Web site for the Terra Pro Products, has a good online resource for information at http://www.soilsecrets.com/growingsoil.htm

And they've recently posted videos, for people with high bandwidth connections for people to learn more about their products, and building better soils: http://www.soilsecrets.com/Nike Sneakers | Home


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