White ute spraying crops in biochar trial
DAFWA spraying crop in Energy Farmers 2015 biochar trials.

Energy Farmers Receive Biochar Trials Funding

We are pleased to announce our application to the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) to run biochar trials has been successful.

The aim of the biochar trials will be to demonstrate potassium response to the application of wheat straw biochar to soils in a cereal crop.

Many Australian farmers burn crop residue to control chemical resistant weeds. There is however an opportunity to capture this residue to produce bioenergy and biofuels. To achieve this outcome, it is important to understand how the by-products of the bioenergy process, such as biochar will affect our cropping systems.

Farmers on soil types low in Potassium import potassium in the form of Muriate of Potash (MOP) to use in wheat crops. Since wheat straw is quite high in Potassium, we will ask the question, is there is potential to mine Potassium from soil types typically high in Potassium, process the straw through pyrolysis to produce bioenergy and biochar and use the biochar to replace potassium in a cropping regime? This trial will test this hypothesis.

The biochar trials will also include treatments of biochars made from waste resources (such as chicken manure) blended with traditional fertilisers to ascertain yield response. The demonstration site is Northampton shire, Western Australia. The soil is a typically, lower performing loamy sand. It is moderately acidic with low levels of Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium and Organic Carbon.

We have engaged Grant Thompson from Crop Circle Consulting to carry out the biochar trials.

The trial will consist of small plots, each of approx. 0.004ha for each treatment. Each plot will be seeded with a small cone seeder. There will be a minimum of 4 reps for each treatment and include:

• Control (No treatment)
• Standard farmer treatment with traditional fertiliser
• Up to 8 biochar or biochar blend treatments – We have not finalised the treatments at this stage. Biochar would applied either under (deep banded) or with the seed.

Biochar will be produced from locally source wheat straw, shredded and pyrolised by Energy Farmers and analyzed for nutrient and carbon content by The University of Western Australia.


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