Jesse Leavitt 's Profile
Jesse Leavitt
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Joined:
12/11/2012
Last Updated:
04/12/2012
Location:
Farmington, utah, United States
Climate Zone:
Wet Tropical
Gender:
Male
Web site:
facebook.com/communitiesforasustainablefuture





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Biochar project at PRI Australia

Posted by Jesse Leavitt about 6 years ago

Biochar was inspired by the discovery of black earth in the Amazonian soils. Today we've singled out biochar for its benefit. In this post I answer the question.. "Is biochar worth it?"
Biochar, it can save the world! Well..can it? After reading biochar revolution, and listening to people who are involved in the biochar movement, you really start to think "wow, I can really save the world!" Now biochar has some great benefits, like creating habitat for micro organisms and carbon sequestration, however the production of char consumes a substantial amount of woody material. (See photo 1) For the initial process the device I used to heat the biomass was a 44gal barrel with meandering holes drilled at the base of the barrel (see photo 2) Inside the 44gal barrel is a 30gal barrel with a sealed lid to prevent the biomass from being exposed to oxygen.(see photo 3) The biomass decomposing at high temperature in a low oxygen environment is properly termed as pyrolysis. This process is essentially what produces the char. The idea is simple but takes good timing, because the inner chamber must remain at a consistent temperature, ideally 400 Celsius for a duration of 24 hours. Now I didn't use a temperature gage, nor did I burn for 24 hours. The thing with my kiln is that it had a flush of oxygen throughout the burn. This had caused my fuel to burn very quick, and at a very high temperature. I ended up running out of fuel after 5 hours of burning. By some fluke I ended with a product that Geoff Lawton claimed to be the best char he'd ever seen! (See photo 4) So after having gone through the process of producing biochar, I wanted to put it to good use. With fresh biochar it's good to "charge" it with micro organisms. You can do this by soaking it in compost tea, or even urine. I wanted to experiment with mine by using it as a layer in an inoculated compost. The theory I read suggested to spread the char on each high nitrogen layer, and this will allow nitrogen to remain in higher concentration. Therefor decomposing the pile at a faster rate. (See photo 5) So is biochar worth it? I would say using the method I did, It wasn't. I say this because for one I burned a hell of a lot of fuel, and the net return was minimal. Also biochar isn't a silver bullet. Although it can be used as another tool in the tool box, it's not going to save the world on its own.Don't worry though, I haven't given up entirely yet! I will be back with another update on how I used an even simpler method that has a low input, and high return..so stay tuned! Until next time, Jesse

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Comments (4)

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Richard Larson
Richard Larson : Since your conclusion isn't yet settled, my intitial reaction is to say piss on it. So I'll have to try this so I can. Hurry up and post this simpler method. Thanks!
Posted about 6 years ago

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Erik Klockemann
Erik Klockemann : Nice write up Jesse. We still have a lot of that char you made. I will try and have one of the students here do a comparison test with it and write it up. Keep up the good work.
Posted about 6 years ago

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Jesse Leavitt
Jesse Leavitt : Thanks Erik. Yeah that is a great idea, let me know how those comparisons go. In the mean time check out my new update. I discovered a much faster, and more efficient way of producing biochar.
Posted about 6 years ago

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Erik Klockemann
Erik Klockemann : Geoff wants you to send this to Craig so it can be posted as an article.
Posted about 6 years ago

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My Badges
Consultant Aid worker Pdc teacher
My Permaculture Qualifications
Pri verified
PDC
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Warren Brush
Location: Quail Springs
Date: Nov 2012
Other course unverified
Environmental Educator Workshop
Type: Teacher Training
Verifying teacher: Kristen Bonner
Other Teachers: Alex Propora, Josh Wennergen, Drew Webb
Location: Natural History Museum, Utah
Date: Dec 2012
Other course verified
Earthworks
Type: Internship
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm
Date: Jul 2013
Other course verified
Aid Project Establishment
Type: Internship
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm
Date: Aug 2013
Other course verified
Teacher Training
Type: Internship
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm
Date: Aug 2013
Other course unverified
Introduction to Apiculture
Type: Internship
Teacher: Peter Stace
Location: Peters farm
Date: Sep 2013
Other course verified
Urban permaculture
Type: Internship
Teacher: Nick Huggins
Location: Zaytuna farm
Date: Sep 2013
Other course verified
Sustainable soils
Type: Internship
Teacher: Paul Taylor
Location: Zaytuna farm
Date: Sep 2013
Other course verified
10 week internship
Type: Internship
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna farm
Date: Jul 2013
Other course verified
Permaculture-tool use & repair
Type: Internship
Teacher: Danial Lawton
Location: Zaytuna farm
Date: Sep 2013
0 PDC Graduates (list)
0 PRI PDC Graduates (list)
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have acknowledged being taught by Jesse Leavitt
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Climate Zones
Jesse Leavitt has permaculture experience in:
Mediterranean
Island
Sub tropical
Wet/Dry Tropical
Wet Tropical
Dry Tropical
Arid
Semi Arid
Hot Desert

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