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BRINGING UP

BIOCHAR

Researchers look for added value in ag residues

STORY AND PHOTOS By MATTHEW WEAVER Capital Press

ROCKFORD, Wash. — David Gady can turn straw into heat, gas and soil nutrients, which he hopes one day will be as good as gold for him and other farmers.

Gady, a Rockford, Wash., farmer, has built a three-tiered “gasifier” that turns bluegrass screenings and other ag waste into biochar — charred organic matter that can be used as a soil amendment.

Biochar is the umbrella term used to describe the material created with the application of heat and pressure. The process also produces heat and gas. The properties of biochar vary depending on the process and the ag material used.

Though the technology is in its infancy, researchers hope to find an economical way to produce biochar that can boost crop yields, add organic matter to soil and reclaim soil that’s become too acidic.

Turn to BIOCHAR, Page 12

‘A lot of this is research — try something, if it doesn’t work, come back, try something else.’

– Farmer David Gady

TOP AND INSET PHOTOS: Rockford, Wash., farmer David Gady holds up biochar made from bluegrass screenings Jan. 15 on his farm. Gady, seen above, is partnering with a Spokane company interested in possibly commercializing the process Gady uses to produce biochar, which may show benefit when used as a soil additive.

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