Growing with Biochar
USDA SARE grant project

KAW Valley Biochar
Lawrence, Kansas
Greenman Farm Biochar Test Plot
Street, Oskaloosa, KS
Bill Price, Steve Moring
April 2013
2nd SARE Test Plot
Protocol for Apple Trials

For the initial biochar test at Greenman Farm, 15 assorted apple varieties were planted along the driveway leading to the residence. Biochar and inoculant were added in different combinations to topsoil used to fill the planting holes. Later, as roots begin to spread, a second application will be made to a wider ring around each tree, including SEA-90 sea minerals. In future years, as crown and roots spread and develop, wider rings of biochar, inoculants and minerals will be applied around each tree.

April 24, 2013, I inoculated 12 gallons of fine granular charcoal made from mixed wood chips from the county road crew. Steve Moring made the char with his 55-gallon TLUD burner (photo top right) at Vajra Farm, to which we added cedar chips made by David Yarrow and Taylor Stetler at Hoyland Farm. We also had a 50-pound bag of horticultural charcoal bought at a nursery store.

One third gallon of SCD Probiotics BioAg culture was added to 10 gallons of stagnant pond water in a large plastic trash can. Then the 12 gallons of biochar was stirred in. The biochar plus inoculum was allowed to stand for over 24 hours until late the following day.

We prepared inoculated biochar, believing Daniels Excavating would drill 18-inch diameter tree holes with an auger. Based on an 18-inch hole, we calculated we needed 2 gallons of biochar to fill a 2.65 cubic foot planting hole. Instead, Daniels drilled fifteen 24-inch holes over 24 inches deep. Because the native soil is heavy clay below about 10-12 inches of clay-loam, Daniels provided "black" topsoil to backfill the holes.

We filled the 15 planting holes with approximately 12-18 inches of topsoil, leaving about 18 inches to plant each tree. Based on volume calculation (V = Depth x PI x Radius2) = (1.5 x 3.14 x 1 = 4.7 cubic feet), planted root zone was approximated as 4.7 cubic feet x 7.48 gallons/cubic foot = 35.2 gallons per hole.

Our planned biochar application rate was 10% by volume (= 3.5 gallons/hole), but we had only 2 gallons/hole available for planting. So, our biochar rate was actually 6%.

Apple Tree Trial: five test plots, 3 apple trees per plot

Plot #1: Control + Inoculum
Each tree planted with topsoil containing 3-4 shovels of cottonseed compost. Composted soil for three trees was inoculated with a quart of BioAg culture. The culture was diluted with one-half gallon of rain water before application. Composted soil was added in a way to not directly contact tree roots.

Plot #2: BioChar only
Each tree planted with topsoil and cottonseed compost (as in Plot #1), plus biochar only, without BioAg inoculum. As topsoil was added to a hole and around tree roots, biochar was layered onto soil by sprinkling it uniformly. Composted soil was added in a way to not directly contact tree roots. Char for these plantings was 1/16th-inch horticultural charcoal purchased from Hummert International.

Plot #3: Control
Each tree planted with topsoil and cottonseed compost, without biochar or BioAg inoculum.

Plot #4: BioChar + Inoculum
Each tree planted with topsoil and cottonseed compost, plus Biochar inoculated with BioAg culture (described above). Topsoil, compost and biochar were added as for plot #2. Charcoal was made by pyrolysis of wood chips and cedar chips. Excess liquid poured off inoculum-soaked biochar was divided equally in thirds to pour evenly in three planting holes.

Plot #5 (pollinators): Biochar ++
Trees consist of apple trees used for pollination of experimental trees. Each tree was planted with topsoil and compost, plus inoculated biochar, as in plot #4. In addition, about 1 gallon of non-inoculated biochar (Hummert) was equally divided and layered in the top layer of soil in each hole.

Planting the 15 apple tree varieties is Phase 1 in this test application of these amendments.

Phase 2 of the experiment, after trees bud out and roots take hold in soil (early June), we will add amendments in a ring around each tree at a 3-foot radius and 6-inch depth. We will layer amendments on soil surface and rototill into soil. In addition, a solution of SEA-90 sea solids will be added to soil surface around all the trees as a trace element booster.


Vajra Farm

International Biochar Initiative
SARE grant with 8 Kansas farms
SARE Biochar proposal
Growing with Biochar
Biochar on the Farm
KAW Valley Biochar

Biochar in Soil
The 4 M's to Prepare Biochar
Using Biochar in Soil
World Class Soils

Carbon-Smart Farming
Let Freedom Ring!

"Cool-Food" Labeling

TLUD Fabrication & Operation

Woodgas Power & Biofuels
Woodgas Wizard Wayne Keith
Woodgas History

Nutrient-Dense Food
Nutrient-Dense Introduction
Nutrient-Dense Campaign
Nutrient-Dense at SaratogaApple

Sea Minerals
Sea Energy in Agriculture
Nutrient-Dense Milk
SeaAgri: SEA-90 distributor


the story
the source
the miracle
the promise
Research & Demonstration
Biochar Test Plots
Vajra Farm
Hoyland Farm
Lulu's Garden
Common Ground
Moon on the Meadow
Buller Family Farm
Give Growers Guidance
on the Farm
SARE-funded project

Lawrence, Kansas

Let Freedom Ring!
Geology into Biology

Carbon, Minerals & Microbes
Venturi Vortex
TLUD Biochar Burner

optimum combustion
Lettuce Seedling
Trials with Biochars

Saratoga Apple, Summer 2010
The 4 M's
Prepare Biochar
for use in soil


grow food in changing climate
Eating Our Way
to a Sustainable Future

answers to climate calamity
Nutrient Dense
at Saratoga Apple
Divine Ratio
Alice in mathematical wonderland
Water Angel
in India

KAW Valley Biochar     Growing with Biochar: a USDA SARE grant project     6/21/2013