Winter Timber Sale

USFS WI DNR Biochar Test

What is the effectiveness of using biochar to enhance soil?

Microscopic structure of biochar

The U.S. Forest Service and Wisconsin DNR are collaborating on a test of the effectiveness of using biochar to enhance soil for young forests by using it at the Wisconsin DNR Nursery in Boscobel.

Biochar is akin to charcoal. It is transformed from wood waste (or other natural waste material) in a low-oxygen environment. It is believed to have strong abilities to enhance soil quality for forestry and agricultural products.

“Biomass, such as unmerchantable wood waste, is transformed into this carbon-rich material in a low oxygen environment, cooking most non-carbon materials out of it and leaving the material’s basic structure intact,” according to the DNR’s announcement of the project.

The DNR purchased two ”Ring of Fire” Biochar kilns from Wilson Biochar, LLC. They are easily transportable in sections and feature a double-walled flame cap which has advantages of efficiency and safety, according to the project team.

There is some skepticism about the benefits of biochar. However, the Boscobel test will assess its effectiveness by monitoring the growth of eight different tree species. “Biochar is an emerging market that has a lot of hype around it, but there are many scientific studies underway to continue sifting and winnowing the many claims associated with biochar’s benefits,” according to the DNR team announcement.

The DNR announcement is here: Link

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