Re: [soil-age] Soil Candidates Running for the Climate (Thidemann, Itzkan, McKibben)

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erichjknight

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Jun 2, 2018, 12:43:34 AM6/2/18
to soil...@googlegroups.com, Healthy Soils Coalition, Healthy Soils Legislation, bio...@yahoogroups.com, se-bi...@googlegroups.com



Dear all,

I sent an email to the administration of the rodale research center asking about reports I had heard of their producing biochar and asking about their ongoing research, I included the extensive emails I had sent dr. Elaine Ingham during her tenure as the head agronomist there and my understanding that doctor Chris Nichols, now feeling that roll, should please contact me about the extent of the biochar work going on at rodale.

I will keep all informed on these forums when I hear back
Sent from my Sprint Phone.

-------- Original message --------
From: Seth Itzkan <seth....@gmail.com>
Date: 5/31/18 10:34 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: soil...@googlegroups.com, Healthy Soils Coalition <VH...@list.uvm.edu>, Healthy Soils Legislation <healthy-soil...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: [soil-age] Soil Candidates Running for the Climate (Thidemann, Itzkan, McKibben)

By Karl THIDEMANN, Seth ITZKAN, and Bill MCKIBBEN

Across the nation, the first wave of a political movement rooted in agriculture’s role as a climate solution is gathering momentum. Unseen by most city dwellers and suburbanites, a carbon farming revolution is sweeping across the land. Driven by a mix of economic and ecological reasons, a growing number of farmers and ranchers are adopting practices to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, where it overheats the planet, into soil, where it boosts fertility. Plants have performed this pollution-to-nutrition alchemy nearly forever, with the deep, dark loam found in the world’s breadbaskets attesting to soil’s ability to keep carbon out of the air for thousands of years. Research suggests photosynthesis could “lock up” enough carbon to help civilization avert a climate catastrophe - assuming, of course, emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas are swiftly reduced through the deployment of renewable energy technologies.

Converting agriculture, from a net source of greenhouse gases to a net sink, flips the climate imperative from “do less harm” to “do more good,” a proactive planetary healing that recognizes ecological restoration is climate mitigation. As one sign that so-called regenerative agriculture is going mainstream, Kiss The Ground, a California-based advocacy organization, will soon release a soil documentary featuring cameos by a celebrity couple not known for farm activism: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen.

The right policies, of course, will be key to hastening a transition to climate-friendly agriculture, and democracy is answering the call. Healthy soil has risen from an obscure topic to a key issue for a small but swelling cadre of candidates able to think beyond the next election cycle.

  • Audrey Denney, candidate for Congress in California’s 1st District, encourages voters to send her to Washington, D.C. to “fight for the health of our soils, our planet, and our future.” Denney, raised in a farming family, studied Agricultural Education then learned agro-ecology by assisting with projects in El Salvador and Ghana. “At a federal level, I’d work for more funding to increase the staff of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, which does a great job providing technical assistance on stewarding and building our soil health. I’m also committed to an outcome-based system rather than a practice-based system, empowering farmers to find creative and economically viable climate mitigation solutions,” said Denney.
 
  • Bob Massie, a social justice activist, ordained minister, and former head of Ceres, an organization working to green the world’s largest companies, is campaigning to be the next governor of Massachusetts on a platform supporting agriculture’s unique role in reversing global warming. “Farmers, businesses, government agencies - even backyard gardeners - can manage land to capture carbon dioxide in soil and improve soil health,” said Massie.
 
  • Also in Massachusetts, PhD physicist Gary Rucinski, Northeast Regional Coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby, is hoping to unseat U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III in the 4th Congressional District. According to the challenger, the incumbent doesn’t support the bold action needed to address the climate crisis, such as a transition to farming practices that mitigate climate change. “I am encouraged by draft Massachusetts legislation seeking to advance the practice of regenerative agriculture in the Commonwealth. Agriculture that improves soil carbon content is both a climate and a food security measure. As a representative in the U.S. Congress, I would advocate for changes to the federal Farm Bill to promote soil health,” said Rucinski.
 
  • Nate Kleinman, well known Occupy activist and co-founder of the Experimental Farm Network, is running for U.S. Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district. Equal parts organizer and farmer, Kleinman’s nonprofit is devoted to the collaborative breeding of plants resilient to a changing climate, with a focus on long-rooted perennial food crops that sequester carbon in soil. Kleinman promises to “Incentivize regenerative organic agriculture and small family farms, and support farmers who choose to transition to sustainable methods.”
 
  • Arden Andersen, a physician, farmer, and regenerative agriculture educator running for governor of Kansas, recently tweeted, “Appropriate farm technology can make Kansas carbon neutral in 5 years due to carbon sequestration into soil humus.” Andersen is credited with coining the term “nutrient-dense,” used to describe food high in minerals and vitamins. Crops raised in carbon-rich soils derive all the nutrition they require for vigorous growth from bacteria and fungi working symbiotically with a plant’s root system, with no need for costly fossil fuel-based fertilizers and pesticides.
 
  • Billy Garrett, running for lieutenant governor of New Mexico, wrote recently in the Santa Fe New Mexican that, “Regenerative agriculture and ranching practices - such as shifting from inorganic to organic fertilizer, planting cover crops and applying compost to rangeland - have the potential to substantially increase the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil while increasing yields and enhancing water retention.” Economic revitalization is also promised. “A revolution in regenerative agriculture could mean a new source of income for New Mexico’s rural communities, allowing farmers and ranchers to generate carbon offsets,” said Garrett.

Regenerative agriculture candidates have found a home on social media in the Twitter feed of Citizens Regeneration Lobby (CRL), the political lobbying arm of the 850,000-member strong Organic Consumers Association. Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of CRL, notes that the roster of traditional farm issues, such as the regulation of pesticides and fertilizer runoff, has expanded this political season to include recognition of agriculture’s role as the only sector of the economy poised to reverse climate change. “One of the most exciting aspects of regenerative agriculture is how quickly this climate mitigation tool can be ‘switched on.’ Farmers and ranchers can, within a few years, transition to land management practices that make their farms not just carbon-neutral but carbon-negative, sequestering more CO2 than is emitted. The remarkable potential of agriculture to sequester literally billions of tons of carbon annually offers a much needed glimmer of hope on the climate front,” said Baden-Mayer.

Elizabeth Kucinich, Board Policy Chair for the Rodale Institute, the oldest organic research organization in America, observes that improving degraded land offers economic and health benefits. “Returning carbon to soil boosts the natural capital of farms by helping farmers become more profitable and, by decreasing nutrient runoff, prevents algal blooms linked to human illness and harm to wildlife,” said Kucinich.

Heralded by California’s pioneering Healthy Soils Program, paying farmers to return carbon to soil, and France’s aspirational “4 per 1000” international initiative, encouraging farmers worldwide to enrich soil organic matter by 0.4% each year to stabilize the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, the regenerative agriculture transformation is well underway. It must accelerate, lest the planet bake for millennia.
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Seth Itzkan and Karl Thidemann are co-founders of Soil4Climate, a Vermont-based nonprofit advocating for soil restoration to reverse global warming. Bill McKibben is the Schumann distinguished scholar at Middlebury College and founder of the anti-climate change campaign group 350.org.


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Seth J. Itzkan
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Erich Knight

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Jun 2, 2018, 11:16:32 AM6/2/18
to Jim, Henry Swayze, Soil Age, Healthy Soils Coalition, Healthy Soils Legislation, biochar, se-bi...@googlegroups.com
Agree with Jim, semi disagree with Henry.

Given the newest research on biochar surfaces provided by Hans Peter Schmidt and the Canadian Advanced light source microscope, showing that the surface of biochar accelerates the humic process in soil and that the symbiotic nature of biochar providing the carbon Condominiums for both microbes and fungus, means that  to accentuate the exponential growth of soil carbon we need to promote both.

So to optimize both the recalcitrant properties of humic acids & GLOMALINs and thus promoting plant chemical communication and generalized plant health a general approach using both inoculants and biochar along with other best management practices, such as no-till and cover cropping and holistic grazing seem the best approach for all of our different agricultural applications, Horticultural efforts and Landscape enhancements.

Johannas Lehman has been very conservative with his studies of the potential of biochar for carbon sequestration. I personally think he vastly understates the potential because most of his studies predate the research paper by Hans Peter Schmidt et al last year.

On Sat, Jun 2, 2018, 10:44 AM Jim <j...@strongstreet.com> wrote:
I agree that overall the potential of soil inoculants is more interesting (I am still looking for people who would be willing to participate in some home-scale inoculant composting this fall). Mostly because it is so easy (although it does take some time - as much as 2 years by current estimates to go the easy route based on David Johnson's work. Elaine Ingham's style is certainly interesting too and much faster).

I am still interested in biochar. There is a design that has been used at a golf course for small scale generation of biochar. With some tweaks I think it could have real value (the big cost items for what I envision would be one 55 gal and one 30 gal stainless steel barrel). I envision gathering up wood scraps and any time I have enough make about 15 gal of biochar (half the volume of the starting wood in the 30 gal barrel). It might be a great way to jump start soil improvement (along with a few other techniques).

   Jim

------ Original Message ------
From: "Henry Swayze" <henry...@gmail.com>
To: "erichjknight" <erichj...@gmail.com>
Sent: 6/2/2018 10:33:37 AM
Subject: Re: [soil-age] Soil Candidates Running for the Climate (Thidemann, Itzkan, McKibben)

Hi All
In November of 2014 I interview Johannes Lehmann of Cornell who wrote the tome on biochar.
I was particularly interested in if there was enough material to create the biochar needed to convert our soils and if the economics worked.  You can find his interview app 22 minutes into the show. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QiyH8R07qO4XTz5CBiQ83Gz9pyzGPwu8
I suspect that soil inoculants with a high mycelium content will prove more productive and cost effective.
Henry Swayze
VHSC
Vermont GreenZine WFVR-LP

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erichjknight

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Jun 2, 2018, 6:02:02 PM6/2/18
to Jim, Jon Hohman, soil...@googlegroups.com, Henry Swayze, Healthy Soils Coalition, Healthy Soils Legislation, biochar, se-bi...@googlegroups.com
Jim,

The most integrated use of biochar is as a layer in the home compost pile, yes you can add inoculants but just adding a layer of biochar will increase the home compost piles aerobic temperature, speed up the composting process and because it is absorbent, will absorb 75% of the ammonia that would otherwise off gas.

The result is, if you grind your biochar smaller than 2 mm, the size of a earthworms mouth parts, when you turn the pile which needs to be done less often, the worms congregate at the biochar strata.

Both the European and Australian peer-reviewed research papers and practitioners I give quick links to in my 2016 USA biochar presentation which can be simply Googled by its title,
The Civilization of Soils 


Sent from my Sprint Phone.

-------- Original message --------
Date: 6/2/18 5:41 PM (GMT-05:00)
Cc: Henry Swayze <henry...@gmail.com>, Healthy Soils Coalition <VH...@list.uvm.edu>, Healthy Soils Legislation <healthy-soil...@googlegroups.com>, biochar <bio...@yahoogroups.com>, se-bi...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re[4]: [soil-age] Soil Candidates Running for the Climate (Thidemann, Itzkan, McKibben)

I have not followed the literature on biochar (maybe I should read up some more), but given the abundance of carbon-rich biological waste, the potential of biochar seems pretty apparent to me. This is a bit over simplified, but if biological waste (like leaves and yard trimmings) is suitable for inoculant grade compost that seems like a great use of it (we need to get really good at creating inoculant-grade compost). Similarly, most of the rest could be charred. Doing so economically requires well-engineered retorts (which unfortunately tend to be better as they get larger), but a couple of used stainless steel barrels for about $500 should get you pretty close to the ability to produced 15 gallons of biochar every day (almost 4000 gallons a year if you do a batch every work day). That is a big step in the right direction - you could jump start the revitalization of of a whole lot of soil with that much biochar.

   Jim

------ Original Message ------
From: "Jon Hohman" <jonh...@gmail.com>
Cc: "Jim" <j...@strongstreet.com>; "Henry Swayze" <henry...@gmail.com>; "Healthy Soils Coalition" <VH...@list.uvm.edu>; "Healthy Soils Legislation" <healthy-soil...@googlegroups.com>; "biochar" <bio...@yahoogroups.com>; se-bi...@googlegroups.com
Sent: 6/2/2018 12:12:47 PM
Subject: Re: Re[2]: [soil-age] Soil Candidates Running for the Climate (Thidemann, Itzkan, McKibben)

Super low cost biochar kiln used successfully for thousands of farmers:

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