Marsh Creek Farmstead: Biochar production

Biochar production

Do you make biochar?

Ive attempted to make biochar several times in the pase with less than stellar results. 
After watching some videos about top lit down draft biochar kilns I decided to throw one together.
I used some old steel drums but I unable to achieve a full char on the wood chips. At best it was a 50% and I would loose so much of the volume (about 2/3 reduction) that it didnt seem like it was worth my effort.

I tried several tweaks but never really got it to work very well.  

After listening to The Survival Podcast episode #1602 about small scale biochar production I decided to give it another go. In that episode I learned of a biochar cone kiln and after seeing what this style of kiln actually was decided that I could make something very similar by cutting off a section of a closed head drum and laying it down.

What is biochar exactly??

Biochar is a fine-grained charcoal made by pyrolysis. The process of heating bio-mass (wood, manure, crop residues, solid waste, etc.) with limited to no oxygen in a specially designed furnace capturing all emissions, gases and oils for reuse as energy. Biochar has been used in agriculture for more than 2,500 years and is now becoming popular in modern horticulture as a safe, sustainable soil amendment.

What are the benefits?

Biochar Enhances Soil & Protects Water Quality by increasing the nutrient and water retention properties of soil. Biochar outshines all other organic soil material in its ability to attract and retain water and nutrients. Plants are healthier and less fertility runs off into surface water and leaches into groundwater.

Biochar is relatively inert and persists in soil far longer than any other organic soil additives. Because biochar lasts hundreds of years, its benefits of nutrient and water retention and overall soil porosity keep working, unlike common fertilizers and conditioners.

When added to soil, biochar improves plant growth and crop yields while reducing the total fertilizer required.

More info can be found at the US Biochar Initiative

Here is a video of the process.