By Lindianne Sarno
The woods around our neighborhood have a lot of tinder. Does Homer have active participants in Alaska’s Firewise Program? Several of us Kachemak Bay citizens are interested in harvesting slash and tinder from local forests to make bio-char. Harvesting slash and tinder would improve fire safety. Should a forest fire occur, groomed forests burn cool; forests heaped with slash and tinder burn hot.
To make bio-char, tinder and slash are turned into charcoal by burning fuel to combust woody materials in a set of two metal drums (one inside the other). Gases are combusted within the system. The resulting charcoal is soaked in a microbe-charged solution like compost tea, manure tea, or urine. A piece of charcoal the size of a pencil eraser has an inner surface area of 1,000 to 2,500 square meters. When the charcoal is soaked, that huge surface area charges with trillions of microbes. When this bio-char is added to soils, the microbe population of the soil explodes. Degenerated soils are restored. Bio-char activated soil sequesters tons of carbon dioxide. Earth’s air and water are overwhelmed with carbon dioxide, but earth’s soils can sequester enough carbon dioxide to turn around global warming and halt ocean acidification.
Bio-char done on a large scale is the answer to ocean acidification, which threatens Alaska’s fisheries. (See Laine Welch’s Fish Factor, March 5, “Ocean Acidification kills 10 million scallops in waters off BC.”)
We want to initiate a project that engages cottage industries in bio-char production. We have the resources here in Homer: slash and tinder from forests, fish waste, imaginative engineers and a hard-working, entrepreneur-minded population. We want to produce mountains of bio-char-charged compost, using fish waste, wood waste and green waste, and barge it to where soils need regenerating. We want to involve the hopes and energies of young people to engage in this effort to save our planet’s life-sustaining capacity. Surely a project of this importance can attract grants. Judging by the growing interest in bio-char around the planet, we can generate profits by marketing bio-char and super-compost, by the sack and by the barge load. Perhaps landowners would be glad to have bio-char crews clear out slash and tinder.
The book that inspires us is, “The Bio-char Solution” by Albert Bates. I have it in my Kindle and am on my third reading. I have asked the Homer Library to get the book, and the Homer Bookstore is carrying it. Mike Kennedy is reading “The Bio-char Solution,” and looking for metal drums suitable for making charcoal.
Interested folks are welcome to give me a ring at 907-235-2628 or call Mike Kennedy at 299-1696.
Lindianne Sarno teaches, writes, performs and homesteads in Homer, Alaska.
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