ANZBIG delivers 1st Workshop

Report of the Biochar workshop held on the 11th & 12th December, 2020 at Tinonee, NSW.

Professor Stephen Joseph, from ANZBIG

Thanks to Stephen for the presentation of the workshop, his skills to deliver, passion and knowledge of biochar was amazing.  We completed an evaluation form at the end of the workshop and every participant gave him the highest assessment.

Stephen was able to deliver the information on a farmer level which is important. There was lots of information to take in but combining the theory with the practical aspect kept the participants enthusiastic. Making the biochar was fun, we were put into groups and had to discuss the recipes and make biochar.  Different ratios of ingredients were used depending on what use the biochar was intended for. The ingredients varied we had straw, wood chip, chicken manure, crusher dust and red clay. Biochar has many uses could have been, for animal nutrition, growing vegetables, fruit trees/orchards or pastures. We made pizzas in the oven after the biochar and then we got to eat them which everyone enjoyed.

Incorporating biochar into your garden/farming system has many health/environmental benefits. It can increase the water holding capacity of soil, stores carbon, increases your yield in production and profit. Biochar is able to lock up heavy metals in the soil so they aren’t plant available, added to water soluble nutrients buffers them, can be mixed with molasses and fed to livestock this enhances their nutrition and when they produce manure dung beetles bury the biochar into the soil. Various designs of retorts were discussed which gave participants food for thought depending on what scale of biochar production they intend to do.

I can’t forget to mention Stephen had lots of stories to tell from his experiences throughout the world. Early on in his journey included working with Australian aboriginal people in Arnhem land who taught him a lot about making biochar.

We had an educational two days and we would like to have Stephen back again, to encourage others to attend to learn about the various uses/benefits of biochar.

Alison Allan.