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Erich J. Knight

Nov 5, 2010


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I believe you underestimate Conservation farming and Biochar systems in the speed, scale and cost of implementation. Large Scale Scenarios; Conservation Agricultural............ (+ Biochar = 100% CO2e Emissions) "In general, soil carbon sequestration during the first decade of adoption of best conservation agricultural practices is 1.8 tons CO2 per hectare per year. On 5 billion hectares of agricultural land, this could represent one-third of the current annual global emission of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels (i.e., 27 Pg CO2 per year)." Add just 1 Ton more of char/Ha (800lb/Ac) and you cover 100% Current Annual Fossil CO2 Emissions. Recent NATURE STUDY This very conservative, (waste only feedstock) review, only hints at the climate potential of additional Agroforestry and Biomass crops. Sustainable bio char to mitigate global climate change The Australians are saying that Char sequestration cost $20 / Ton Carbon right now Biochar systems for Biofuels and soil carbon sequestration are so basically conservative in nature it is a shame that republicans have not seized it as a central environmental policy plank as the conservatives in Australia have; "Carbon sequestration without Taxes". Agriculture allowed our cultural accent and Agriculture will now prevent our descent. Wise Land management; Organic farming and afforestation can build back our soil carbon, Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar. Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle. Biochar viewed as soil Infrastructure; The old saw; "Feed the Soil Not the Plants" becomes; "Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !". Free Carbon Condominiums with carboxyl group fats in the pantry and hydroxyl alcohol in the mini bar. Build it and the Wee-Beasties will come. Microbes like to sit down when they eat. By setting this table we expand husbandry to whole new orders & Kingdoms of life. ( These oxidised surface charges; carbonyl. hydroxyl, carboxylic acids, and lactones or quinones, have as well a role as signaling substances towards bacteria, fungi and plants.) This is what I try to get across to Farmers, as to how I feel about the act of returning carbon to the soil. An act of penitence and thankfulness for the civilization we have created. Farmers are the Soil Sink Bankers, once carbon has a price, they will be laughing all the way to it. Unlike CCS which only reduces emissions, biochar systems draw down CO2 every energy cycle, closing a circle back to support the soil food web. The photosynthetic "capture" collectors are up and running, the "storage" sink is in operation just under our feet. Pyrolysis conversion plants are the only infrastructure we need to build out. To me, in the long run, the final arbiter / accountancy / measure of sustainability will be soil carbon content. Once this royal road is constructed, traffic cops ( Carbon Board ) in place, the truth of land-management and Biochar systems will be self-evident. A dream I've had for years is to base the coming carbon economy firmly on the foundation of top soils. My read of the agronomic history of civilization shows that the Kayopo Amazon Indians and the Egyptians were the only ones to maintain fertility for the long haul, millennium scales. Egypt has now forsaken their geologic advantage by building the Aswan dam, and are stuck, with the rest of us, in the soil C mining, NPK rat race to the bottom. The meta-analysis of Syn-N and soil Carbon content show our dilemma; The Ag Soil Carbon standard is in final review by the AMS branch at USDA. Both Congresional Ag Committees have asked for expansion of Soil Carbon Standard to ISO status. Read over the work so far; In my efforts to have Biochar's potential included, I have recruited several to join the list, briefed the entire committee about char when issues concerning N2O & CH4 soil GHG emissions were raised, fully briefed a couple of the 100 members when they replied individually to my "Reply all" briefs. The members cover the full spectrum of Ag interest. With the Obama administration funding an inter-departmental climate effort of NASA, NOAA, USDA, & EPA, and now even the CIA is opening the data coffers, then soil carbon sensors may be less than 5 years away. I'm told by the Jet Propulsion Lab mission specialists responsible for the suite of earth sensing satellites, that they will be reading soil carbon using multiple proxy measurements in 5 years. Reading soil moisture to 3 foot dept in two year with SMAP, Reading GHG emissions and biomass from the tree tops down next year when the Orbital Carbon Observer (OCO, get it:) is rebooted, to 1 Ha resolution. Then, any farmer can click "Google Carbon maps" to see the soil carbon accounted to his good work, a level playing field to be a soil sink banker. The Moon Pie in the sky funding should be served to JPL Global Clean Stove Initiative: Another significant aspect of low cost Biomass cook stoves, that produce char, is removal of BC aerosols and no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing "Three Stone" stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria & Aids combined. The Biochar Fund : The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that, and the size of the Biochar corn root balls ) Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon State Dept. Release; 100 million clean-burning stoves in kitchens around the world. WorldStoves in Haiti ; NSF Awards $1.6 million in grants; BREAD: Biochar Inoculants for Enabling Smallholder Agriculture N & P CYCLES; Whole systems solutions based on building soil carbon take a while to filter through one's mind to see the manifold benefits. The "Eyes Glaze Over" microbial complexity, labile vs. recalcitrant carbon, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) etc, all conspire to slow peoples comprehension . Once thought through however, the elemental carbon nature of biochar understood, soil's reduced GHG emissions, the local economic stimulus perceived, then can be added that beyond rectifying the Carbon Cycle, biochar systems serve the same healing function for the Nitrogen & Phosphorous Cycles, Toxicity in Soils & Sediments and cut the carbon foot print of livestock by 1/2 with a 5%Char feed ration. The production of fossil fuel free ammonia & char (SynGest, ) and the 52% conservation of NH3 in composting with chars, are just the newest pathways for the highest value use of biomass. The Soil Carbon Standard committee's work with USDA, EPA and Congressional Ag committees offers real hope, with expansion to ISO status, the world can all be on the same soil carbon page. Since we have filled the air , filling the seas to full, Soil is the Only Beneficial place left. Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it. Thanks for your efforts. Erich Erich J. Knight Chairman; Markets and Business Review Committee US BiocharConference, at Iowa State University, June 27-30 EcoTechnologies Group Technical Adviser Shenandoah Gardens (Owner) 1047 Dave Barry Rd. McGaheysville, VA. 22840 540 289 9750 Co-Administrator, Biochar Data base & Discussion list TP-REPP