Biochar: a Primer
Biochar is “char” (similar to charcoal, but there are important differences), that can be activated with beneficial microorganisms for use in agriculture, home gardens, and a myriad of other uses.
Technically, biochar is CO2 that was converted by photosynthesis into a living plant whose biomass is then converted by pyrolysis to a form of fixed carbon that is removed from the atmosphere for centuries. Are you with us so far?
When CDS micro-charged™ biochar is used in agricultural fields the endemic or introduced microbial communities work in a marvelous symbiosis with the plants to continuously draw down more carbon each year as well as increase crop yields.
- As a soil ammendment
- Filtration and bioremediation (see story below)
- Agent for sequestering carbon and climate change reversal
- 1,500 Cameroon farmers increased crop yields 240% using biochar
- Japanese study found yield increases up to 324% with biochar
- Pro-Natura International grows 100 tons of veggies/ha in the sub-Saharan desert using biochar
- 24 studies show improved soil productivity 20-220%, application 0.4-8 tons carbon/ha** Lehmann and Rondon (2006)
Biochar is destined to play an important role in the rejuvenation of abandoned and marginal soils. Biochar aids in re-establishment of the microbes responsible for making soils fertile by making them once again rich in the carbon needed for food security. If we are to reverse climate change this symbiosis between soil and carbon-capturing microbes will be paramount.
See also: biochar’s many uses.
Because biochar can rejuvenate depleted soils, especially those that once produced food, or soils in tropical or sub-tropical climates, it has become an much sought-after commodity. Biochar inoculated with mycchorizal fungi further sequesters carbon in normal agricultural soils long after its application!
“Worldwide, 1.8 million square miles that once produced food are now abandoned.”
– Stanford University
With Micro-charged Biochar™ and good farming practices, farmland draws down carbon just like an old growth forest!
The photo to the far left is a photograph of the Hope Mine in Colorado taken July 2010, before application of biochar. The photo to its right was taken August 2011 — just 13 months later. This is just one example of how biochar can be applied to dramatically improve soil fertility.
See original article coloradoindependent.com/98897/hope-mine-cleanup-demonstrates-power-of-biochar
Unretouched before & after photos courtesy of the Colorado Independent
The soil build up of organochlorines like DDT, Chloradane, Dioxin and heavy metals like arsenic is of great concern worldwide. In New Zealand, the government has identified 50,000 toxic sites that have come from the agricultural practice of sheep dipping. Many of these sites are in prime real estate locations, and Massey University is researching how to quickly clean up the soil so they can be repurposed.
As you can read in this article (where both the overview and full paper can be found), application of biochar works in two ways to rejuvenate this toxic soil:
- Biochar supports microbes that break down the organochlorines returning it to inert components.
- In addition, biochar doubled the growth to ryegrass and ferns — the plants chosen for phytoextraction of the arsenic resulting a big reduction of the arsenic held in the soil.
The technique of photoextraction or “phytoremediation,” as it is often called, is very effective when used in conjunction with biochar and holds promise for a quick turnaround of toxic soils.
More about biochar’s many uses.
“Biochar can be used to address some of the most urgent environmental problems of our time – soil degradation, food insecurity, water pollution from agri-chemicals, and climate change…”
– Dr. Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University
– Prof. Bill McKibben
Founder of 350.org
Courtesy The Climate Reality Project. Mark Ruffalo narrates this short film on the cost of carbon pollution.
Take a bit of time to view Anna Gallands outlook for 2014. Climate change is one of the top 4 priorities in 2014.
Watch this video with Rev. Bodhi Be, co-founder of Doorway Into Light, with Ram Dass, speaking of a new concept in our approach to death, the ‘DeathStore’. Ram Dass asks that we ‘bring death out of the shadows’ in this video.
Doorway Into Light’s next steps are:
- To implement ongoing trainings for caregivers to the dying, and setup networks of neighborhood volunteer caregiving teams.
- To move THE DEATHSTORE to a central downtown location to prove it can be profitable in a ‘mainstream’ setting;
- To explore franchising THE DEATHSTORE to other communities in Hawaii and the US
- To create natural burial grounds in Hawaii, utilizing burial grounds as the economic engine
- To develop a park with picnic areas, walking trails and green ways
- To protect, restore and reforest lands in Hawaii as conservation/ open space.
- To create a fund for dying people in need of financial help with rent, utilities, food, burial, cremation, etc.
- To open a sustainably powered crematory.
Doorway Into Light will continue to partner with land trusts, religious organizations, schools, funeral homes, cemeteries, hospitals and hospices, as well as local governmental agencies.
The long range plan is to create a Dying Center which would include a green/conservation cemetery and park, a crematory, a school, a ceremonial hall, and a sanctuary for the dying.
The executive director of Doorway Into Light and founder and president of THEDEATHSTORE, Bodhi Be, is an ordained interfaith minister,a hospice volunteer, a funeral director, a Hawaii resident for 36 years, married for 28 years, a parent and grandparent, and off-the-grid organic homesteader. He has owned 3 successful businesses in Hawaii.
He is supported by fellow board members Laura Binstock (Bodhi’s wife) and Ram Dass, who have a combined 55 years experience in the fields of death and dying, community development and business management. As well, our advisory board of doctors, lawyers, environmental and business leaders and others, provide important specific advice and counsel in their fields.
Since 2006 Doorway Into Light has been presenting workshops, trainings and presentations around the state and the country in end-of-life and after-death care to the general public and to professionals working in these fields.
Doorway Into Light has been working directly with the dying and their families, providing volunteer support and helping to create volunteer caregiving teams, occassionally signing on with Hospice as the “primary caregiver” when no one in the dying person’s community was available.
The organization sponsors fundraisers for people in the community who were dying and experiencing financial difficulties concerning rent, utilities, food, etc…
Doorway Into Light has been facilitating a once a month open gathering/support group called Speaking of Death for over 6 years.
Doorway Into Light hosts a weekly, local, call-in radio show called Conversations With Death.
In January of 2012 , THE DEATHSTORE was opened, a Funeral Home and Resource Center. Now open for one year, it has just been certified as the first green funeral home in the state of Hawaii.
In its ‘incubator, Steve Jobs’ garage’ phase, THE DEATHSTORE is ready to take its next step and move downtown into a mall location to prove itself as something which could be replicated throughout the country.
THE DEATHSTORE is re-inventing and revolutionizing the funeral home and the funeral industry, bringing forth options for end-of-life care and after-death care that are holistic, environmentally sustainable, community and family based, and spiritually inclusive. It offers “goods and services to the dying, their families, the grieving, and all who may die one day”.
As well as providing most of the services of a funeral home, THE DEATHSTORE features locally made, inexpensive caskets; shrouds, and urns, a book store, a lending library, an educational corner, home funeral supplies, and many free counseling services. End-of-life and bereavement counseling is offered by a professional counselor. Celebration of life, and ash spreading ceremonies can be facilitated by our, on staff, ordained interfaith minister. Support is provided for creating and understanding advance directives and durable power of attorney documents. The ‘Lighter Side’ features tee-shirts, mugs and ‘coffee to die for’. The organization has helped families have home funerals, direct burials, direct cremations, ocean body burials, ash scattering ceremonies and memorial/celebration of life ceremonies.
In bringing it forth as a “store” prominent in the marketplace, that offers most services offered by a funeral home, and as a “resource center”, useful before someone dies, Doorway Into Light intend sto stimulate and elevate the cultural conversation on aging, dying and death. The hardware store, the shoe store, the clothing store, the grocery store, the death store. Bringing dying and death into everyday “commons”.
The next version will feature a cafe to encourage open dialogue amongst the public in the fields of death, dying, grieving and deep living. It, as well, will become a venue for public talks, films and workshops.
While the immediate goal is $25,000 to support and expand the current works of DOORWAY INTO LIGHT and THE DEATHSTORE, all funds raised above this will determine which of our next steps can be taken.
Here are some of the impacts your contributions can have:
1. Supporting a non-profit organization offering an alternative to industries and institutions involved in end-of-life and after-death-care.
2. Being a part of a larger movement helping to return the ‘business of dying’ to sacred, community work.
3. Helping to educate people so they make good choices and know their rights when they are dying and when their family members are dying.
4. Stimulate and elevate our cultural conversations on aging, dying and death, thereby contributing to deep living and a deepening culture.
5. Stimulate community development, and support people dying at home, through creating community volunteer caregiving teams and through trainings, education and support.
6. Bring holistic, environmentally sustainable practices to the funeral home, crematory and cemetery, and help to protect land as open space/ greenways/ community commons.
7. By supporting families in end-of-life and after-death care, grieving is made welcome, and family and community relations are deepened.
8. Encouraging the recognition that dying is not just a medical event, but a powerful time for healing, transformation, deepening and ‘village building’.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
- PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR COMMUNITIES BY EMAIL, PHONE, FACEBOOK, ETC AND PLEASE “TALK IT UP”.
- Here’s an important opportunity many people would like to know about and support.
- PLEASE use the Indiegogo share tools!
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