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The American Farmland Trust, along with four other partners, including the Pacific Farming Company; University of California, Merced; Sierra Resource Conservation District (RCD); and Madera/Chowchilla RCD, is 1 of 7 projects to be awarded by the CDFA Healthy Soils Program. The project’s main goal is biochar application; they will produce biochar, conduct research and analysis, and lead demonstration events on an almond orchard.

Biochar is porous and very high in carbon. The high amounts of biochar result in carbon sequestration with a ratio of 1 ton of biochar for every 3 tons of carbon dioxide that would have been in the atmosphere. Biochar is an excellent way to sequester carbon permanently and is good for the atmosphere and environment. The benefits of biochar are ongoing and include physical, biological, and chemical-related positive effects. The biochar creates a honeycomb-like structure in the soil that improves aeration, water holding capacity, and nutrient retention. Biochar also helps reduce compaction and improves nutrient availability and accessibility to the soil. Biochar is very good at housing microbiological life that acts as a defense team for the soil. Biochar is permanent, and its benefits are an essential part of soil health.

Biochar will be produced on-site using a mobile pyrolizer and local materials such as chipped prunings, dead trees, and almond shells. The on-farm demonstration events will show how to apply and produce biochar and how to see and assess the effects of the biochar application on a farm. There will also be demonstrations performing the biochar’s GHG, soil, water, and economic analysis. The completion of two comparative analyses related to two types of waste between tree pruning’s versus almonds shells and the comparative analysis for application rates between low and high.

This project kicks off in the Fall of 2022, and the Sierra Resource Conservation District, AFT, and partners are excited to get started!

Check out this press release from CDFA for more information about the program and awardees: CDFA Press Release