Forestry Ink columnist Jim Hilton. (File photo)

Forestry Ink: Some good news during the COVID-19 lockdown

Columnist Jim Hilton shares interesting information about making biochar

Jim Hilton

Observer Contributor

If you are running out of things to do while you are confined to your home, take some time to watch an inspirational video series about making and using biochar. It may not sound too exciting, and that is exactly what the producer of the series thought when he was asked to speak to some high school students. To his surprise, the students were very interested because it was something they could be involved with that would be a positive impact at a time when there were so many negatives all around them.

It is a good series to watch with the whole family; even if you may not have the opportunity to use some of the products yourself, it will show how we can all support the organic way of producing food, which will help us survive in these uncertain times.

Bob Wells and Jon Nilsson have produced a number of YouTube videos about the production and use of biochar, which I highly recommend everyone take a look at. There are many articles and videos about making and using biochar, but I think this series is one of the most comprehensive and useful for anyone interested in a more organic form of farming and gardening. The first video is only seven minutes long, which hopefully gets your attention so you will want watch more in the series.

As we struggle as a society to get back to normal following the lockdown, we need all the ideas we can get to put people back to work. These videos provide some innovative ideas on how we can use our resources wisely and promote a healthy way of life, from the production of our food to building healthy and more productive soils. The videos demonstrate how the Webb farms are attempting to meet the four goals of their company: 1) to produce the best biochar they can, 2) conserve as much energy as possible in the making of biochar, 3) eliminate as much pollution as possible in the process and 4) make the process as profitable as possible.

For Williams Lake and area, I think the source material is the residual logging that is still burned on the landings that was not ground up for the energy plant and pellet plant the past few years.

We don’t have many small mills or businesses that are producing slabs or scrap wood that are used in the Bob Wells video, but there is good potential for using the forest residual fibre and inoculating it with the manure from the stock yards or from surrounding ranches. There are challenges regarding getting material from more remote sites and making the residual material into the right size for making biochar.

Make sure you see the size of the turnips that were produced and the ways that the heat from the biochar production was used in the operation. It would be easy to incorporate greenhouses into this type of operation.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo-Chilcotin for 40 years. Now retired, he volunteers with community forests organizations.

READ MORE: Forestry Ink: Developing a local market for biochar

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pickleballers hit the courts after City lifts COVID-19 restrictions

Patrons must follow specific health and safety guidelines

MS Walk goes virtual due to COVID-19

The annual walk to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis goes online, in #WeChallengeMS initiative

First annual Forest Service Road Clean Up For Wildlife goes until May 31

Taking place from May 16-31, the contest is open for anyone to enter

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Most Read