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Charcoal the new secret weapon: burnt green-waste, branded “Agrichar” marketed as a carbon credit creator, and compost

Posted by gmarkets on 27 September, 2007

Efforts by NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) scientists at Wollongbar Agricultural Institute are revealing the enormous promise of agrichar, a black carbon product of pyrolysis. The pyrolysis process has been developed by BEST Energies and involves heating green waste or other biomass without oxygen to generate renewable energy and agrichar.

Tripled crop biomass yield:Trials using agrichar as a soil amendment have doubled and, in one case, tripled crop biomass yield when applied at the rate of 10 tonnes to the hectare. “NSW DPI research scientist Dr Lukas Van Zwieten has found that…

• when applied at 10t/ha;

• biomass of wheat was tripled; and of

• soybeans was more than doubled.

Agrichar raised soil pH “Regarding soil chemistry, Dr Van Zwieten found that agrichar raised soil pH at about one-third the rate of lime, lifted calcium levels and reduced aluminium toxicity on soils in the trial.”

Lowers CO2: The trials also measured gases given off from the soils and found significantly lower levels emitted of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas rnore than 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Mr Macdonald said other research has found that the carbon in agrichar remains locked up in the soil for many years longer than, for example, carbon applied as compost, mulch or crop residue. “For the environment, it rneans soil carbon emissions can be reduced because rapidly decomposing carbon forms are being replaced by stable ones in the form of agrichar,” he said.

Demo plant: BEST Energies has a small demonstration plant on the NSW Central Coast with the capacity to take 300 kilograms of biomass per hour. NSW DPI formed a research partnership with BEST two years ago to investigate the potential of agrichar products.

Reference: Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, Minister for State Development; Media release, “NSW scientists contenders for United Nations Association environment award: Macdonald”, 1 June 2007. Contact: 0428 491813.

Erisk Net, 1/6/2007

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