Building on the tradition of successful U.S.-based biochar conferences, the 2012 U.S. Biochar Conference delivered four full days of networking, presentations, updates and announcements, accompanied by delicious local wine and food. Hosted by the Sonoma Biochar Initiative from July 29 – August 1, 2012 at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, CA, the event attracted 370 registrants; including 104 presenters from 14 countries (the presentations are available online; plenary session video is also available). Mr. Ray Gallian, one of the founding members of the Sonoma Biochar Initiative opened the event with a speech highlighting the role biochar should play in the world as “one big tool in a toolbox of survival responses” to climate change. The conference was designed to showcase the many facets of biochar—from production, use in soils, characterization, sustainability and carbon sequestration to policy, finance, and economics. In an effort to also highlight the role of California’s agricultural heritage and to get participants out into the field, the conference hosted a number of farm tour sessions to give participants the opportunity visit farms and speak with farmers and others working in agriculture.
Moving from a local view to an international view, the conference included a session focusing on biochar developments in China with four presentations from the IBI-hosted Chinese delegation, who had just completed a tour of biochar –related sites in the U.S. These presentations highlighted the national plans in China to utilize crop wastes for biochar production (as well as for fertilizer, food, and fuel), the developments in biochar production systems in China, and a number of pot and field trials performed utilizing different types of biochars and crops. In addition to the 14-person Chinese delegation, attendees traveled from Canada, Brazil, Germany, the U.K., Australia, Nigeria, and Kenya among other countries to highlight their research, companies and projects.
IBI staff, in multiple presentations, highlighted the overall growth of the biochar movement and IBI’s role in meeting ongoing challenges and IBI’s International Sustainability Guidelines Effort. Additionally, IBI Board Chair Dr. Johannes Lehmann presented new research on biochar and its role in carbon sequestration and there was a presentation on the Biochar Carbon Protocol made by team members Keith Driver of the Prasino Group and Peter Weisberg of the Climate Trust.
Photos of the event can be found online. The conference organizers also announced that the next U.S. Biochar Conference will be held in October 2013 in Amherst MA.
Photo of the opening plenary courtesy of Josiah Hunt