Bio Char in RVA

Climate Compliance Student (Bio Char)

By Jasper from Belgium

The first months I spend time to study topics about rebuilding soils. True this process of learning I became very passionate about this topic so I decided that I really wanted to work around this topic as my Richmond Vale climate compliance action.

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My first action was to observe what was already been done at Richmond Vale Academy to improve the soil.

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I notice that they already trie 2 times to make a bio-char produce, the second version was running but it had some miss functions. So I decided to improve this design. After my decision I dogged deeper in the topic of bio-char. What I found was amazing, I was really stunt by the benefits of it. I knew that I didn’t invent the wheel but still I had the feeling I found something precious. First of all bio-char is a term for charcoal that is used for agriculture purposes.

This means that we take the charcoal and put it in the soil. The main benefits going from soils improvements, drought resistance, waste management and storing carbon dioxide back in the ground. Like I said before It is not something new, this technique of improving the soil existed some 2000 years ago in the amazon.

Tribal people notice the benefits from the ashes and they create a technique call slash and burn.

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What is fascinating about this is you can still find existing places where you can see that the first ground layer is fully covered with bio-char. Scientists discovered that 10 %  of the amazon is covered with this. Bio-char is also known in those regions as Terra Preta what fertile black soil means.

the search to improve the design. I was not an easy task. Should I go for a design that is easy in use and easy to make also thinking about the costs. Because a secondary goal is also to spread the meaning of bio-char. I decided to make a kiln like the previous one but make it with thicker metal. So it last longer. So at a point I was complete ready with the design on paper. I thought I was already behind the half of the project but that wasn’t the case.

I start to make a accounting for the materials and I notice that this I going to be expansive. First I applied for a donation of the metal because this was the major cost. This was the annoying part, I was trapped in a circle of waiting, calling, mailing, waiting, calling, mailing… the project didn’t had a progress at that time. After 3 weeks I needed to make a decision, the metal was really expansive and we didn’t had the money in our team budget for this. The school noticed this and we started to find a way how we could buy the metal.

so finally the moment was there when I could buy the metal. totally excitement! But as you can imagine, the cost of the metal was the biggest but not the only cost so it took me a lot of arranging and budget management to stand where I stand now.

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Is a very interesting learning process. That for, I am thankful to the school and the people here. They supported me in very diverse ways.

To be honest is wasn’t easy all the time (not that I expected that it would be easy), sometimes it was going one step forward and two steps back. But that is why it was such a nice learning process. This was a project that I definitely take home with me to Belgium.

Bio Char in RVA
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