Biochar experimentation: the first results are now at international level.

Last June Open Fields attended two international meetings: the 11th World Processing Tomato Congress (Sirmione, Italy) and the 20th World Congress of Soil Science (Jeju, South Korea). In these two meetings Open Fields presented some results of biochar field experiments on processing tomatoes, done last year at the Az. Sperimentale Stuard (Parma, Italy) in collaboration with Ibimet Cnr.
The application of biochar is well known as a suitable option to enhance soil fertility and crop productivity, also at Italian latitudes. Our field experimental results have shown how biochar, when applied as soil amendment, could promote crop yield of processing tomato (cv. Pietrarossa) and enhance soil nutrient retention to avoid soil depletion due to intensive agriculture. These results have been recently included in two scientific publications submitted to prestigious international journals in the field of agronomy and crop science.

Read the two posters: ISHS_tomato_poster and WCSS_poster

Biochar: new perspectives, not only agriculture

Open Fields attended the II Mediterranean Biochar Symposium “Environmental Impact of Biochar and its Role in green remediation”, which took place on 16th and 17th of January 2014 in Palermo (Italy). The research carried pout in the last year, thanks to the collaboration of Open Fields, Ibimet CNR of Florence (Italy) and Agt (Advanced Gasification Technology), was presented by Dr. Pusceddu and Maienza  (Ibimet CNR Florence). The research was appreciated by the participants for its scientific significance and originality.

Dr. Pusceddu showed the results obtained by applying sophisticated techniques for the chemical and morphological characterization of biochar in the long term and a laboratory study on particulate emissions from biochar from different feedstocks and production processes.

Dr. Maienza investigated  the effect of biochar on the production of a horticultural crop considering nitrogen content (in the form of ammonia and nitrate). This experiment was carried out on Processing tomato at the Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard, San Pancrazio (PR) during the last summer season. For the first time, the effect of biochar on soil properties and on Tomato crop was analyzed in a field experiment. In this experiment particular attention was given to the interactions between biochar stability and soil organisms.
Click here to read the report of the event, Italian text.

ICHAR annual conference…mission accomplished!

On July 18th Open Fields hosted the ICHAR (Biochar Italian Association)  annual conference called “Biochar an opportunity for agriculture and energy sectors”.

Biochar is the by-product of the pyrolysis with interesting soil amendment properties, increasing the crop production and saving the agro-inputs. The meeting gathered many people from the business, the agriculture and scientific sector.

Chairman of the conference  was Roberto Ranieri, who underlined the importance of such meetings in order to turn the biochar into a real business. Among the speakers, Franco Miglietta, ICHAR president and Ibimet-CNR scientific chief, Alessandro Pozzi from AGT (Advanced Gasification Technology) who explained how  the pyro-gasification plant works, Alessandro Peressotti (University of Udine ) who presented the new pyrolysis stoves designed by Blucomb for the production of heat and domestic biochar, and finally Massimo Valagussa from the Minoprio Foundation who took stock of the European regulation and of the steps needed to register charcoal as a legal amendment.

Later in the morning the ICHAR group  moved to the “Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard” (San Pancrazio-PR) where there is an ongoing field trial with biochar and processing tomato. The participants  had the opportunity to visit the field and observe the results of biochar on the tomato which is strategic for Emilia-Romagna giving more than a third of the Italian production.

July 18th: ICHAR annual meeting

On July 18th, in the Open Fields headquarters, the annual ICHAR (Italian Biochar Association) meeting will be held, gathering businessmen, agro-technicians and researchers. During the workshop the innovative stoves designed for the biochar production will be presented, the European legislation progress on this interesting soil amendment will be described, and finally some initial results on an ongoing test in the field on processing tomato will be illustrated. The participation is free but you are welcome to contact us to make the reservation!

Biochar: eyes to the future

From 17th to 18th of January, the 1st Mediterranean Symposium on Biochar: “Biochar: past, present and future” was held in Vertemate con Minoprio (Co), Italy. The symposium was a good opportunity to meet national and international scientists and companies, and to take stock of all central aspects of the biochar system: renewable energy, agriculture and environment, climate change. Open Fields was among the invited guests as stakeholder.

The speakers stressed the principal characteristics of biochar (the environmental effect on atmospheric carbon sequestration, the increasing of crop production, the ability to retain water and the remediation effect on polluted soils), the importance of traceability of feedstocks and the need to solve the doubts on long term effects. The advanced technologies (gasification, pyrogasification and hydrogasification) underlying biochar production were described by some of the major European companies. At last, importance has been given to its business, that in the USA is now underway, and the importance of quality certification and legislation to create a future market for biochar in Europe. In Italy, the Italian Biochar Association (ICHAR) is working to promote the use and future trade of biochar, organizing dissemination activities. ICHAR has made an application to the Scientific Commission on Fertilizers of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MiPAAF), to ask for the enrollment of biochar as a soil amendment. The application is currently under evaluation.

Biochar as a possible resource in agriculture

Biochar or charcoal is obtained through pyrolysis starting from agricultural wastes. The biomass pyrolysis process originates energy and a by-product known as Biochar. Recent studies show an effect of Biochar as a soil amendment and an increase on crop yield. Since November 2012 Open Fields is a partner of a research project by the Regione Toscana in collaboration with AGT-Advanced Gasification Technology and the Institute of Biometereology Ibimet of the CNR. The project goals are to evaluate a possible energy value chain, to study the effect of the use of Biochar in agriculture and to promote it through several activities.