Biochar Helps Combat Nematodes And Increases Yields

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A biochar-based soil improver, enriched with species of mycorrhizal fungi, actinomyces bacteria and trace elements is helping to combat the root-knot nematode – significantly increasing yields for organic tomato growers in Portugal.
Biochar is a highly porous, high carbon form of charcoal used to improve soil nutrition, growing conditions and soil structure. It is made from any waste woody biomass that has been charred at a low temperature with a restricted supply of oxygen, a process called pyrolysis. This process results in a stable form of carbon that is removed from the atmospheric carbon cycle when added as a soil amendment.

“Where we have incorporated Carbon Gold Soil Improver in the very sandy soil at our Portuguese nursery we have seen a 7% yield increase and a lower level of nematode infestation than areas that were not treated.” – Paul Howlett, Head of Agronomy at Vitacress Tomatoes

Vitacress Tomatoes (formerly Wight Salads) trialled Soil Association and SKAL approved enriched biochar from UK biochar company, Carbon Gold, from June 2013 to April 2014 in order to improve the sandy soils at their Portuguese nursery. They applied 2kg per square meter to a 5 hectare trial plot taken to a depth of 30cm, analysing the outcomes against a 5 hectare control area with the same crop.

The increase in crop yield was significant. By week 24 they realised a 7% higher yield, (an additional 0.9kg per m2) compared to the 5ha control plot. This equated to an additional 2,600kg Piccolo Cherry on the Vine tomatoes.

In the Vitacress trial plots it became evident that the colonies of mycorrhizal fungi, using biochar as a refuge in the soil, were able strike out at parasitic Meloidogyne nematodes, enticing and devouring the microscopic pests and protecting the plant roots from attack.
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White House To Spend $68 Million To Advance Solar Deployment And Increase Energy Efficiency

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In its newest effort to combat climate change, the Obama administration today announced that it would dedicate nearly $70 million in funding toward bringing more solar power to homes and businesses, improving energy efficiency in rural areas.

The $68 million in federal funds will go to 540 energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, 240 of which will be for solar power, the White House said in a press release. Along with the funding, the White House also announced a slew of executive actions, private and public sector commitments, and initiatives from different federal agencies, including one from the Department of Energy to train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years.

Another newly announced program seeks to get more clean energy in low-income communities, by clarifying that Department of Housing and Urban Development’s funding programs for economic development can be used for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Cities in Oregon, Maryland, and Virginia have committed to installing more solar power by 2016, and one winery in California has promised to have 60 percent of its electricity usage come from renewable power by 2016, the White House said.

Taken together, the White House estimates that all of the new programs will cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons every year, the equivalent of taking about 12 million cars off the road annually. By 2030, the programs would result in carbon pollution cuts of approximately 300 million metric tons, the equivalent of 63 million cars, the White House said.

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Fungi Is Responsible For Majority Of Carbon Sequestration In Forests

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Northern boreal forests are easily recognized for their majestic trees and have been credited with helping to sequester much of the world’s carbon dioxide. It was originally thought that vegetative matter was what was sinking the greenhouse gas. Now, a diverse team of scientists from Sweden have discovered that these great, soaring plants are getting a lot of help from some humble decomposers living in the soil. Their findings, published in the journal Science, revealed that fungi were responsible for up to an incredible 70 percent of soil carbon in certain samples.

Researchers have long known that boreal forests were able to suck up a good deal of carbon, but were previously unclear as to where it went and how it was absorbed. They had thought that the carbon was carried to the tree’s needles and dropped to the forest floor where decomposition would leech it into the environment. If that were true, they would expect to find the newest carbon deposits close to the surface. However, after taking soil samples from over 30 islands and two small lakes in Sweden, they saw that the new deposits were more likely to be found farther down, pulled to the roots of the trees by fungus. The mycorrhizal fungus has evolved a special relationship with the trees where it colonizes in the roots and assists the tree. The fungus gets access to a more consistent stream of carbohydrates and other sugars, and the tree in return has access to more water and minerals.
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Mycorrhizal Fungi Overview

Relatively short video talking all about Mycorrhizal fungi, from what it is to what it does. Interesting for those of you who want to get a good overview of what the processes are that these fungi utilise and how they form a symbiotic relationship with the plant.

My advice would be to inoculate the roots of your potted plants with these beneficial fungi/bacteria to give them a good protection for the period before they and transplanted into the ground/soil. Give them the best start in life they can get I say, get that good fungi in before the bad can get its foot in the door.

TED Talk: “Everything You Know About Composting is Wrong”

Entertaining and interesting information on composting, it’s not quite “Everything You Know About Composting is Wrong” but he raises some good points about saving as much “leaf mold” (fallen tree leaf) to make into essentially needed rich compost and save your kitchen waste/scraps and waste paper for the Wormary (worm bin) where the worms can actually break it down into a useable form. Compost piles often struggle to break these “ingredience” down but worms enrich them into what’s known as “worm casts”, an excellent source of Nitrogen and Phosphorus as well as many other things.

Speaker: Mike McGrath @ TEDxPhoenixville
More info on speaker: http://whyy.org/cms/youbetyourgarden/