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Grinding Biochar--necessary or not?


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#1 mathuranatha

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 08:43 PM

Hey ,I've dug a pit [about 2 cubic meters] and have accumulated a big mound of charcoal [3or4 cubic meters] and am wondering how best to crush it or if crushing is necessary . I made some garden beds, some without biochar and some with[30%]about 2 months ago , not much difference in growth rates though and that was roughly crushed by hand.

#2 freeztar

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 01:53 AM

The more you grind it, the more surface area you will have for micro-ecosystems to take advantage of.
Try smashing it with a brick and then doing the "TP Twist" dance to get a finer grit.

#3 maikeru

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:28 AM

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#4 Philip Small

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 09:04 AM

Hey ,I've dug a pit [about 2 cubic meters] and have accumulated a big mound of charcoal [3or4 cubic meters] and am wondering how best to crush it or if crushing is necessary.


Short answer is that crushing is not necessary, burial is not necessary. Bury if you have small amounts of charcoal per unit area (1 cubic yard/acre). Banding it down the seed row with a small amount of starter fertilizer, makes good sense. Charcoal, even in small amounts, is a good complement with biofertilizers, like activated compost teas.

At the other end of the scale (100 cubic yards/acre), screen it to get the crushed needed, and fling the rest out as chunks on the surface. Work it in (or not) as the opportunity presents itself. In landscaping, horse pasture, or woodlands (as some of us have in our back yard), I wouldn't worry about working it in. In a garden situation it could go on top of a layer of compost, topped off with leaf or grass mulch.

I made some garden beds, some without biochar and some with[30%]about 2 months ago , not much difference in growth rates though and that was roughly crushed by hand.


Prep the charcoal with a light, uneven spray of a soluble N fertilizer. It's a salt, so excess rough on the microbes. - I use MiracleGro because it is handy, but ammonium sulfate would be less $$. Another alternative is to finish the charcoal in compost, apply it as a compost mix. If the compost mix is high in charcoal, a little soluble N fertilizer will help it get through the high C:N hump.

#5 solarbobky

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 06:23 AM

The quick and easy way to add a little nitrogen is pee on it. See "Liquid Gold" by Carol Steinfeld.
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#6 solarbobky

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 06:28 AM

There's a nice looking rock crusher at ebay with the description: "Rock Stone Brick Jaw Crusher Gold Mining Prospecting". Should do the job.
Bob

#7 solarbobky

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 06:34 AM

Lehmans has a hand powered "high speed grain mill" and belt powered "high speed mill" that should do a nice job for smaller quantities.
Bob

#8 jankdc

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 08:58 PM

I have Lehman's hand grain mill, and I would not try to grind chunks of charcoal in it. Remember it is a grain mill, you need to get it the size of grain before putting it into the mill. If I got charcoal the size of a piece of grain, I'd stop.

#9 Munin

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 09:31 AM

a hand meat grinder might be effective to crush charcoal.

#10 Mukrakiish

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 01:07 PM

What sorts of innoculation/fertilization are you doing to your char/biochar other then using compost and manure? Any set ratios or amounts? (maikeru but whomever can reply with their experiences)

Is anyone making particular points of crushing before innoculating? Is anyone leaving it to evaporate all moisture off before using or are they draining (which would bring its own problems if you crushed it to a powder).

To stay semi-on topic...I'm definitely in agreement that you should be grinding it down to a powder to access as much nutrients and micro-organisms as possible. I can't see much reason unless you'd specifically want large chunks mixed in (for some specific reason) otherwise, grinding would be ideal so long as it was mixed in after and not on the surface.

Edit: just realized how old this thread is. But the questions are still up unless I just need to use the search engine a little harder :naughty:

#11 maikeru

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 01:53 AM

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