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Biochar – Anyone used it?

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    I’ve been hearing a lot about biochar lately and was wondering whether anyone hare has used it in anger? My soil could certainly do with some improvement and this looks interesting.

    Any experiences? Success stories? Disasters?

    And of course, where do you get the stuff from?




    Try reading Peter Cundalls article in the ABC Organic Gardener mag, sept/oct 2008. He loves the stuff and I really dont think you have to buy it. Hope thats a help, cheers porgey.


    One of our forum members bazman (who hasn’t been on much in the last 12 months or so) has actually been busy forming a company to market and produce Biochar – checkout BlackEarth Products

    Barry’s used biochar extensively in his own permaculture/food forest set up with great results.


    Further to what Porgey said about Peter Cundall. He also uses it in his video, “A Year in Pete’s Patch”. Unless my memory is deteriorating I believe he says he got excellent results trialling it with sweetcorn, it really increased his yield. He also trailed it with Tomatoes, but did not believe it made any difference. I do stand to be corrected it has been a while since I watched it.



    Thats right Susan, his corn crop was a cracker. He has a wet back wood stove that when dampned right down burns wood very slowly due to the low oxygen levels and thats what creates good bio-char / charcoal. I assume the center of a large / old fire creates similar conditions so sometimes use old charcoal as PC does.


    We’ve started to use charcoal from our wetback wood stove too, though not very systematically yet. I’ve been throwing it into the wetweed (i.e. weed tea except that’s not very systematic yet either; more like a big heap of thistles in a yard cart left out in the rain) on the theory that it would pick up nitrogen and assorted good things from the decomposing weeds before the whole lot goes under mulch in the paddocks or becomes the base layer of new garden beds.

    Bazman’s site and the site, to which he links, are really interesting. There’s obviously an immense amount to be learnt yet. I think that testing small plots with and without biochar and with biochar formed and treated in different ways would be valuable even at suburban garden scale, because there are many variables.

    Exciting times.


    ahning, I have no doubt Biochar / Charcoal is of great benefit. PCs article was really interesting and he touches on how ancient Amazonians improved there terribly impoverished soil with charcoal. I am sure it can be refined and scientifically analysed to eek out the most from it but for now I am just going to collect all my cold fire remnants and use the charcoal as the Amazonians did and the ash in the compost & around the garden.


    This is how I make my biochar.

    Attached files


    After alot of searching (many, many hours), we have finally found a set plans for a biochar retort kiln that make sense for us. We are hoping to build our version within the next year – and will keep everyone at ALS posted 🙂 This “$365 retort kiln” appealed to us because the design is very simple and effective and the materials are easily obtainable (compared to the countless other plans that we looked at and considered). Here is one link for anyone interested in this particular design:



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