The 2013 Biochar Symposium held last month in Amherst was charrific with over 300 attendees from academia to agriculture, from non-profits to biochar businesses and consultants with plenty of newbies balanced by many who have been in the biochar world for a decade or more. I fall somewhere in the middle these days …(i.e. I work a lot with academia and ag, I feel like I am a non-profit instead of a consultant some days and I’ve been around the biochar world for nearly 4 years!).
I had been part of the Symposium Planning Committee heading up the Benefits & Uses Track for over a year so it was gratifying to see things go so well. The event kicked off with a Farmers Workshop at the New England Small Farm Institute, which is a wonderful place in Belchertown where I first learned how to make char out of a TLUD. Judy Gillen does an amazing job running NESFI and she acted as our very gracious hostess for the workshop. I had asked some very capable PhD students at Cornell, Rachel Hestrin & Thea Whitman, as well as the indefatigable David Yarrow to create biochar content that would be relevant to farmers. “Charchemides” and I also did a presentation on “The of Anatomy of a Biochar Trial” [you can download the presentation here – warning though – my presentations tend to be more pictures than words so you might not get the whole jist from this deck!]. We had standing room only attendance and lots of great dialogue throughout the workshop.
The Symposium was filled with amazing content covering four different tracks: Feedstock & Production; Benefits & Uses; Policy & Community; and Sales, Scale & Marketing. For better or for worse I only saw the presentations in the Benefits & Uses track but they were really, really interesting and diverse. There is so much going on in so many different research fields these days, it is exciting. A majority of the Symposium presenters allowed us to share their presentations which are now up on the conference website. Some are not able to share the content as their research is still in the peer review stage but they were able to describe and discuss some very interesting research.
Presentation videos will be added to a youtube channel that we created for the Symposium once the video editing is completed – which turned out to be quite the arduous task! You may even get to see my IGNITE talk called “Balancing the Hope & Hype of Biochar”…I’m sure you can’t wait! I’ll post more on that later but here was the title slide…