Biochar - time to test or give it a rest? Trials

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,402
Reaction score
4,614
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
For the past four years I’ve been sporadically researching Biochar as a beneficial media amendment and searching for a product that would be usual le as a bonsai media amendment.

There are a plethora of scientific studies researching the effectiveness of Biochar as a soil amendment. At the same time we’ve all been inundated with other products, following in a long line of pricy ‘go faster’ bonsai dollar intensive products… Vitamin B1 and hormone, Superthrive, Kelp, Humic acid, Fulvic acid, CO2 pumping, etc etc.

Research shows some are shams, others to be effective, yet for the best there are downsides of price and liquid applications losing much of the product upon application and after the next watering cycle.

What Biochar appears to offer is something else, a product that hangs around in the media, improving the rhizosphere via its chemical, physical and biological properties, improving CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity), high water-holding capacity, size of pore, volume, distribution, and element composition, affect its recognized influences, particularly on microbial communities.

obtw: There is a precedent of using charcoal in bonsai media already in that folks actually use horticultural charcoal as a regular component of properly made up Boon “APL” mixes. Yet it’s not widely used in most other mixes…. and horticultural charcoal is not Biochar.

At this point, I think it’s time to try Biochar out.…. and I’m gonna jump into the swamp and try it out in some limited applications, expanding over time, starting with a couple dozen newly repotted satsuki azaleas (in a 90/10 Kanuma/pumice blend)

The problem is finding a product that doesn’t gunk up the media, as biochar amendments tend to be smaller particles. That’s where I was hung up before pulling the trigger on actually using Biochar. Next post we’ll explore one of these products.

obtw: Here’s some research on Biochar for those who would like to be informed on the potential of Biochar: .

2017 review of research paper

a bit about Karen O’Hanlon….

Some pioneering works documented…. and

a bit on Biochar and Humic acid

more. soon,

cheers
DSD sends
 

Potawatomi13

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,100
Reaction score
3,534
Location
Eugene, OR
USDA Zone
8
improving the rhizosphere via its chemical, physical and biological properties, improving CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity), high water-holding capacity, size of pore, volume, distribution, and element composition, affect its recognized influences, particularly on microbial communities.
Sounds just like pumice to me😊. Bought some biochar a couple years ago for bottom of pot soil sweetener only because no other charcoal available locally. Ridiculously expensive for charcoal.
 

Bnana

Chumono
Messages
615
Reaction score
634
Location
The Netherlands
USDA Zone
8
Biochar does improve our soils. Adding it to low CEC Danny soils with our water holding capacity does make it better. Whether there is any benefit when the soil is already high CEV/whc? Probably not.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

Masterpiece
Messages
4,742
Reaction score
7,598
Location
Netherlands
I've read studies about in vitro pine organ development, shoot formation and rooting behavior where it seemed to matter where the biochar/charcoal came from. Charcoal originating from pines seemed to be more beneficial than charcoal from hardwoods.
It seems that it exudates some kind of chemicals that push them into recovery mode quicker. The researchers hinted towards forest fires and the evolutionary trait of conifers to recover quickly after that, but they weren't exactly sure because they couldn't find the exact chemical.

One thing that drifts in my mind ever since is catalysation of normal root exudates into something beneficial. Since charcoal is basically a matrix of carbon and carbon molecules, I think the idea isn't all that farfetched. Especially considering the fact that conifers are packed with turpene resins that have shown to physically change carbon molecules at room temperature (which is why they make poor city plants; they increase the amount of polluting air particles by breaking down rubber for instance).
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,402
Reaction score
4,614
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
After looking around for a product that might work for bonsai I eventually zeroed in on a biochar produced by Wakefield. (Attached find the nutrient data table.) A 1cuft bag sells for 29.99 plus 8.00 shipping. At the product application rate, one bag per 32 sqft @ 4” depth, this bag was likely enough for a couple hundred pots. And the product persists for years. Great if it works, not so good if it doesn’t?

5B89D162-170A-4BB3-BFC6-6203039617DD.jpeg84BCBE56-2091-4020-936E-A73004EBE7FA.jpeg

I selected azaleas, mostly satsuki, as my test group as I was root washing and repotting at least 30 this spring In a 90/10 Kanuma/pumice media. I used an initial application rate of a tablespoon for a 7” Tokoname equivalent. Another smaller amount will be applied in a week when I have more time.

BFFD2EE6-7990-4DC8-95BE-049AD87A08CE.jpeg
To simplify the application, and since the product had fine particles, I put the Biochar on the surface and initially watered it in. Then dunked the pot in water and watered more to get the dust out. Then watered until clear. So far this group has 12 pots.

14635CF9-532C-42EB-8B67-53F0E21F64FB.jpeg

The second group did not have Biochar applied. 6 pots so far. More to go.
6114A0CD-4F75-47CB-9EB6-24E909D232A8.jpeg

The initial question would be if the group with biochar would show an appreciable speed and quality of recovery… and then growth over time. The size of the groups may even out any variation in roots left after washing and maybe cultivar type.

I have another 28 azaleas in bonsai pots and hundreds of second year cuttings that I might also trial.

cheers
DSD sends

Another source link
 
Messages
1,113
Reaction score
1,985
Location
Eastern MA
USDA Zone
6B
Will be interested to see how this goes…. I feel like every time I stumble across info about a Japanese bonsai masters soil mix some kind of charcoal component comes up, but folks don’t seem to talk about it a ton.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,402
Reaction score
4,614
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Exactly on the mark. Yet everyone in the field points this ancient civilizations using forms of biochar to enhance crop productivity… deja vu all over again..

The last ten years of research in bio chat is pretty exciting… lots of positive attributes, overall carbon capture makes it a net positive product. The issue is how to apply in a productive manner.

That’s the reason why I chose kanuma first. A nutrition less media (besides having more azaleas then maples and pines.) that could show results better then others.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

Carkybones

Sapling
Messages
40
Reaction score
494
Location
Northern va
USDA Zone
7a
Good thread. I bought the probio carbon and probio carbon danu and I am testing it out on a few different varieties of deciduous trees. I agree with applying it to the top the soil. I'll post an update as the season progresses.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,402
Reaction score
4,614
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Awesome! Where did you source these products from Dr O?. I heard they are marketed in the US, but have yet to find them.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

bonhe

Masterpiece
Messages
4,041
Reaction score
8,358
Location
Riverside, CA
USDA Zone
11
thanks for posting this. I’ve been using Biochar for about 6 years. All of my trees seems very happy! Besides I have also used humic acid granules.

p/s : I was able to buy two 50lbs bag Biochar for only $30 each from EBay ( free local pickup) . Recently one of my friends wanted to buy it, but the seller did not have that price anymore!!!!
Thụ Thoại
 

Kadebe

Shohin
Messages
440
Reaction score
550
Location
Tielt, Belgium
USDA Zone
8b
Karen O'Hanlon also talks about biochar from olive stones. Given their size and shape, these are ideal for use in bonsai substrate.
She has also been researching a healthy rhizosphere in bonsai pots for quite some time and has already marketed products for this purpose.

All info on her website

In this video starting at 50:45, Peter Warren has a conversation with her about research on soil health and the use of these specific innoculents.

 

Michael P

Chumono
Messages
805
Reaction score
1,115
Location
Dallas, Texas, AHS heat zone 9
USDA Zone
8a
I've experimented with home-made biochar for about 3 years. The first trial was with basil cuttings in 0%,10%, 25%, and 50% biochar/potting soil. 50% was too much, probably because it raised the soil pH too high. 10% and 25% seemed to give similar results, a little better than 0%.

Research on forestry sites yielded a recommendation of 10% for container grown woody plants. This year as I repot I am using 10% in my usual bonsai mix of NAPA Floor Dry or expanded shale with coarse organics. It is too early to tell what effect it has. I am very curious how much other people use in their mixes.
 

bonhe

Masterpiece
Messages
4,041
Reaction score
8,358
Location
Riverside, CA
USDA Zone
11
I've experimented with home-made biochar for about 3 years. The first trial was with basil cuttings in 0%,10%, 25%, and 50% biochar/potting soil. 50% was too much, probably because it raised the soil pH too high. 10% and 25% seemed to give similar results, a little better than 0%.

Research on forestry sites yielded a recommendation of 10% for container grown woody plants. This year as I repot I am using 10% in my usual bonsai mix of NAPA Floor Dry or expanded shale with coarse organics. It is too early to tell what effect it has. I am very curious how much other people use in their mixes.
I use soil substances: Biochar with 10:1 ratio
Thụ Thoại
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,402
Reaction score
4,614
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Nice @bonhe !

That’s right in line with most recommendations on the product I bought.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
31,840
Reaction score
43,733
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
I got problems with that plastic bag.

I have been studying and I'm fittin' to start a Biochar For Real thread.

I want to activate, pun fully intended, these 3 threads on the subject, in an effort to invite the participants to a unified discussion where we can communally put BS.... to rest.

Thank You!

Sorce
 

Maiden69

Chumono
Messages
615
Reaction score
715
Location
Boerne, TX
USDA Zone
8b
Ridiculously expensive for charcoal.
Because it is produced differently than charcoal.

I have used HumiChar and BioChar from The Andersons in my yard for the last 3 years, 1 year in my previous house, this will be the second year I use it on the new one. I can tell you that there is a huge difference between my lawn and the neighbor that uses compost. Tighter growth, stays greener (while his is green when he rakes that stinky stuff then by summer its blah again. I have sprinkled a little bit on the trees as well, I don't know if they are better with it as I don't do a controlled test. Every tree gets a little bit.

The Andersons BioChar uses Dispersible Granule (DG) Technology, which allows particles to disperse when watered. Pretty cool stuff as their fertilizer does the same thing. instead of having chunks of charcoal or round pellets of fertilizer, the granules break down into super tiny pieces and disperse into the ground through the roots.

I also add RAW Humic and Kelp following recommendations from @cmeg1

Long video, but its set to start where he explains the DG granules. I somewhat follow his steps, and this season I had at least 4 people stop and ask what I do that it looks like a golf course. I mean a very bumpy one because I still haven't level it.

And I know, in the last year Doc sounds like a Infomercial... but his old content is great for Bermuda lawn care.

 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
31,840
Reaction score
43,733
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Please to our unified discussion.


Cheers.

Sorce
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom