The second annual Biochar Boot Camp was held April 20 – 22, 2012, at Star Seed Gardens Nursery in Byron Bay. There were 24 registrants with Paul Taylor, Stephen Joseph, and Dan Schreiber (Star Seed Gardens host) facilitating. The workshop focused on how to make, test, and apply special biochar mixtures to work in Australian soils.
Friday evening presentations included a slide show featuring information from The Biochar Revolution, by Paul Taylor. Saturday was devoted to hands-on workshops. Participants broke into two groups, one to explore assembling and firing some new biochar oven designs, the other to assemble mixtures of straw, clay, manure, and minerals in bamboo to be fired in those new ovens. With sparks flying, recycled drums, mesh, metal plates, and tubes were cut up and welded into new biochar machines. The day ended with a Bamboo Feast, including fish curry cooked in bamboo on TLUD heaters, and marinated chicken wings on TLUD BBQ. On Sunday morning the metal workers and welders remained focused on assembling the new oven, while others experimented with TLUD driven retorts. See the IBI Open Source Technology page for pictures and a description of the new biochar oven design. You can also view a seven-minute video report on the workshop.
Participants left the workshop with a greater understanding of how to make a simple biochar reactor, produce a range of different biochars at different temperatures, carry out basic tests, make biochar/compost/mineral blends, understand the properties of different biochars, and effectively apply biochar in different ways in vermi-ponics, hydroponics, and aqua-ponics. For additional information contact Paul Taylor.