These are the composter tumblers that they are using at All Power Labs to do their own trials with biochar. And Aidin was clear that they recommend that we compost biochar first, not just add it directly to planting beds. There the biochar will be inoculated with the microbia of the compost pile and start to do work. There is a lot of evidence from Gill Tract Farm that adding biochar also increases the temperature of compost piles by quite a lot (this is something I desperately need). Not only that, Gill Tract has seen the temperature spike and then remain at high temperatures for six weeks after an application of biochar! I’m hoping to see this in my own compost piles. I came home with a large bucket of char, and added only a cup to the worm bin and about 10 cups to the large compost pile in the chicken run (they recommend adding 10% biochar by volume, an estimate is ok. My bucket should last three months). We’ll see how that works to activate heat and decomposition.
I also really appreciate that the biomass used to make this biochar is nut hulls from California orchards. This is taking something out of the waste stream, something that takes hundreds of years to decompose, and putting it to good use.
If you’re interested in your own subscription of biochar and live in the area, you can contact Aidin at The Local Carbon Network. It’s not cheap, I’ll warn you now, but I imagine that in time, when the benefits of biochar are documented and realized, the price will level out. I also believe it is worth it, if it will help me process enough compost to add two inches to all of my planting beds once a year. This would be terrific because I’m tired of buying compost, for many reasons: price (a lot more than this biochar), the unknown ingredients and their provenance, and the work/energy to get it here. So I’m invested in trying it to see if I can start to produce more compost here, in my yard.
To learn more about biochar, another good resource is the book Kiss the Ground , which is also, I believe, a movement that is part of the Marin Carbon Project.