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agromet commented on SWITCH Soil Water Increase Thanks to CHar

Hi Carolee,
thanks to the message. I'm very happy about hearing your dedication to fight for the third world! Your challenge is really worth!
I started to think about biochar as effective tool for water problems as I noticed than in our region a small portion of land is rich of peat. In this place in summer normally no irrigation is required even for maize or other high water demanding crops. I suppose the situation in Africa can be even more improved by char. During the wet season rainfalls can effectively recharge an amended soil, dereasing the vulnerability of the land. Biochar accounts for another advantage in your case. You told me that percentage of clay is significant, so that the root development probably is limited by texture. Indeed biochar owing to its porosity gives free space to roots development. Moreover it avoids the risk of a complete soil saturation in case of prolonged precipitation events. I'm sure that plants are very healthy!
About the technique to produce biochar, I'm very interested in hydrocarbonization process because of its great flexibility to receive a vast range of untreated organic inputs. It would be great to understand if it is possible to get such a plant in a cheap way for helping the third world. This would be a big goal for the World! Feel also free to contact us (antonio.volta@agromet.it) to collaborate (joint projects, exchange of ideas ...)
All the best
Antonio (Agromet team)

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agromet commented on SWITCH Soil Water Increase Thanks to CHar

Hi Noel,
Here the answers to your concerns:
1) Once introduced biochar in soils, it's very stable as the ordinary coal. This means that the carbon stored in soil in this way will be stored along thounsands of years. Thus application must be done just once, and then biochar becomes part of soil requiring the same management of the latter. We want to promote regional case studies to show to policy makers how much water can be saved (and the related additional benifits) and to identify the best way for utilisation based on the local needs. Remarkably biochar could be also used otherwise, to produce energy or to produce high performing filters etc ... . Production of biochar is not our business.
2) I think the best idea is to support community leaders and agro technicians in learning the principles and techniques by means of workshops or simple tutorials. Then let the communities independent from us or other companies. Agronomists must be careful because after biochar apllication, soil chemistry is different, so that nutrients management can require modifications in scheduling and quantities (e.g. less Nitrogen). Biochar increases the soil pH, thus for instance it is unsuitable for acid loving plants.
 All the best!
Agromet team

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agromet commented on MAJI: More Agro-Jobs with Irrigation!

Thanks for the link! At the moment our project MAJI is stand by. I will contact you whenever we will have the chance to restart with the idea! Cheers
Antonio