CHARchemides and I have been working on ‘The DeVine Char Project’ for the past year or so. The idea is to create a closed loop model where waste biomass from the vineyard is converted into biochar and then used on site. We’ve interviewed different vineyard owners and reviewed all sorts of research on the subject and now we are getting ready to put our first batch of DeVine Char to the test over at a vineyard near Seneca Lake. Research on vineyard and biochar has been done in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the US (UC Davis) and early results are positive!
Why would a vineyard want to use biochar you ask? There are LOTS of reasons! Below are a few of the more relevant ones for the “terroiristas” located in the Finger Lakes region. I’ll provide a bit more detail on each of these as time allows. In the meantime, if you have specific questions on any of these areas, let us know.
1. Reduce off-farm annual inputs (e.g. hay, straw, manure for increasing soil organic matter; fertilizer)
2. Improve yield consistency within a vineyard or block.
3. Improve internal water drainage and water holding capacity of soil.
4. Improve YAN.
5. Improve cation exchange capacity within the soil.
6. Combining biochar with grape pomace will reduce acidity, retain more nutrients and activate composting process.
7. Improve microbial activity in soils to help fend off unwanted pests.
8. Add nutrients to the soil organically.
9. Reduce nutrient leaching.
10. Optimize waste biomass (vine prunings, old vines).
11. Improve root growth.
12. Improve vineyard floor management – and reduce overwintering of pesky intruders.
13. Improve bulk density of soil and reduce compaction.
14. Reduce soil acidity (improve pH).
15. Neutralize common vineyard soil toxins such as copper and CCA from pressure treated wood posts.
Evaluation of potential for carbonizing food processing waste
New York State is home to a variety of food processing industries, many of which generate significant amounts of organic waste. Finger Lakes Biochar has carbonized and tested a growing number of these waste streams including cherry pits, pomace from vineyards and apple juice production, grape vine prunings, grape seed extract (from grape seed oil production), coffee chaff, cellulosic ethanol production leftovers, tofu production waste and more.
Each of these waste streams comes with their own unique challenges in terms of how best to carbonize the material. As the biochar produced from these various organic materials have different physical and chemical properties, they each lend themselves to different end uses including soil additive, water filtration, building materials, etc.
If your company would like to understand how to convert your waste stream into biochar and the various potential end uses for a particular biochar, please contact us.