Biochar as an Ingredient for Animal Bedding prior to Composting

SoilMatrix Newsletter No. 18

The beneficial properties of biochar are greatly enhanced when amended into waste biomass such as manure and other agricultural or urban organic materials before being composted. The result is a compost that is teaming with beneficial microbes and charged with “controlled-release and stabilized” plant available nutrients.

In our very first newsletter (2017), we introduced the healthy plant-soil triangular relationships as described in this diagram.

Figure 1.   Plant Roots, Nutrients, Moisture, Microbiology, and Soil matrix Triangular Relationship

Biochar as an ingredient in soil works to improve these relationships by creating an inviting environment for beneficial micro and macro biology, by absorbing and maintaining moisture conditions, and by adsorbing both macro and micronutrients.  AirTerra has been selling retail and wholesale quantities of biochar across Canada for the past six years.  Even though our customers have enjoyed the benefits of their biochar amended soils, we have recognized that it would be easier and more beneficial to our customers if farmers were to apply biochar directly into animal bedding prior to being composted. This retains more nutrients in the resulting manure compost while reducing odours and GHG emissions at the same time as it is being used in the animal bedding. This practice would also help to realize biochar’s potential as a climate change mitigation and adaptation method at a significant scale.

Over the past few months, we have concentrated our efforts on the potential use of biochar as an animal bedding ingredient that is beneficial for animal health and indoor air conditions in barns and arenas.   Amending biochar with medium and coarse granular sizes into animal bedding provides a “sponge” that adsorbs nutrients from animal urine and manure as soon as animals produce these valuable products.   Since biochar is such a powerful sponge for these elements, odours in barns are reduced at the same time as important nutrients are retained.  Additionally, biochar helps to aerate the bedding to prevent anaerobic conditions that invite pathogens.

The greatest potential for this practice is on mixed farms that operate barns and grow various crops.   To test this method of animal bedding amendment, AirTerra has teamed up with MiGO Ranch owned and operated by MGO Systems Inc. at a newly acquired former Hutterite Colony near Crossfield, Alberta.  MiGO Ranch will be testing the use of biochar as an animal bedding ingredient with eventual composting of the spent bedding along with its amended biochar to produce a “Co-Composted Biochar and Manure” product.

The biochar compost will be used as a top dress on MiGO Ranch’s produce gardens and on its crop fields in the same way as animal bedding compost has been used for decades in Alberta.   The health advantages of using biochar in the barns will then extend to further benefit the soils that are amended with this co-composted product.

We are excited to collaborate with MiGO Ranch.  We will keep you more regularly posted on our progress in this direction.   The following are a few early photos of MiGO Ranch from a distance, and the small poultry barn that is now being amended with biochar.

Figure 2. MiGO Ranch From a Distance in Alberta’s Smoke Filled Summer of 2021
Figure 3. Biochar Amended Bedding in Chicken Coop at MiGO Ranch

If you wish to dive more deeply into this topic, we have included a link to a white paper written on this topic in January of 2019 by Kelpie Wilson of Kelpie Wilson Associates. See:  Use of Biochar in Poultry Barns for Nutrient Recovery and Ammonia Mitigation – Literature Review and Recommendations”

We still have a few 70 litre bags of our SoilMatrix® Biochar available from our spring of 2021 inventory.    These are available at $70.00 each plus shipping via Canada Post to anywhere in Canada.   Larger quantities and bulk bag sizes are available at discounted prices.   See our full price list provided here:  SoilMatrix Biochar Price List

Thank you for staying tuned.

Rob Lavoie, CEO and Founder of AirTerra Inc.

Copyright ©_2021 AirTerra, all rights reserved.  Please reference AirTerra as the source of this information.

Biochar for climate change mitigation (CO2 sequestration) and soil enhancement

SoilMatrix Newsletter No. 9

October, 2017

Welcome back to the SoilMatrix Newsletter.  This issue provides a short set of videos to demonstrate how much research is taking place around the world on the topic of using biochar as a soil enhancement agent and as a way to mitigate CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by CO2 sequestration in the form of carbon.  This was one of the identified unknowns in our July Newsletter.

Click here to read the July SoilMatrix Newsletter

Most climate change measures such as driving an electric vehicle, switching incandescent light bulbs to LED lighting, installing solar panels, geological sequestration of coal fired power plant CO2 emissions, and so on, are considered to be carbon neutral activities. In this edition of the SoilMatrix Newsletter, you will learn how using biochar to enhance your lawn and garden soil, or your farm soil or any soil, actually REMOVES CO2 from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon into soils for 100’s to 1000’s of years.

The following series of short videos were made available by the UK Biochar Research Centre of The University of Edinburgh.   They are evidence of the amount of effort being put towards answering questions relating to the use of biochar for soil enhancement and CO2 emissions reduction.

What is Biochar? by Dr. Saran Sohi…   Click here to view this video

The research hope for Biochar as a climate change mitigation and adaptation technology…

Click here to view this video

Current biochar research at The University of Edinburgh’s UK Biochar Research Centre, by Dr. Ondrej Masek…   Click here to view this last video

My hope in sharing these videos is to demonstrate how a large number of researchers around our planet are now investigating both the benefits biochar has for soils and the effectiveness of long term sequestration of carbon in soils to mitigate climate change.

Thank you for your interest in this topic. We will see you at the end of October.

Copyright ©_2017 AirTerra, All rights reserved.

The Importance of Soil Carbon for Healthy Plants

Spring is surely coming and no doubt you are already looking at seed catalogues and planning your gardening activities for the coming growing season. If you don’t mind me asking… What are your favourite seeds? Hit reply and tell me what you plan to grow this year. I am interested and as a thank you for reaching out to me I will send you a coupon for 50% off on your next BioChar order.  Now on to our topic about soil carbon…

As I mentioned in our first newsletter, biochar plays an important role for soils that have lost organic carbon.   Biochar also helps to maintain the organic carbon at a healthy level between additions of compost. In this newsletter I am sharing three informative links that I think will greatly add to your understanding of soil carbon: a BBC podcast, a vimeo video, and a PDF that provides further information about the benefits of biochar composting and related research references – currently a hot topic in the biochar field.  Continue reading to view these items…

Blending AirTerra SoilMatrix biochar into Memorial University Field Trials.

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SoilMatrix Garden – Summer 2016

Soil Matrix Garden – July 17, 2016

Probably one of the most rewarding activities on the planet – Gardening.   Throughout the summer of 2016, AirTerra will be featuring the SoilMatrix Garden.  Every two weeks a new photo of the garden will be posted to chart its progress.  The soil for this garden was prepared with a 10% blend of SoilMatrix biochar (by volume) with 90% good garden soil from Eagle Lake.  Blending was accomplished using a ground tarp that was pulled from side to side until the two ingredients were blended evenly (easer to accomplish with two people pulling the tarp).  Items in the foreground were planted from seedlings grown in a small greenhouse.   Items in the rows further away were planted from seed.  For example, Karin is standing beside the peas planted from seedlings, which are now standing 6 feet tall.   The peas planted as seeds are to the left in the second row of plants and they are catching up quickly!

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