2012 US Biochar Conference at Sonoma State University

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI), in partnership with the Sonoma Ecology Center, has been chosen by the United States Biochar Initiative (USBI) to host the 2012 US Biochar Conference at Sonoma State University.

Held from July 29 to August 1, 2012 on the Sonoma State University campus, the conference will bring together growers, entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, policy makers, policy analysts, engineers, producers, users, and students all focused on the topic of biochar technology. SBI expects the conference to attract as many as 400 participants worldwide. To date over 75 professional abstracts have been received from professionals working in all aspects of biochar production and use.

Raymond Baltar, SBI Director said, “We’re thrilled to be hosting this national conference at Sonoma State University and feel it will significantly boost awareness of biochar’s benefits in the local agricultural community and on the West Coast. When done responsibly and sustainably, production and use of biochar have been shown to boost crop yields, build long lasting soil fertility, and conserve water. The fact that it can also sequester carbon for hundreds or even thousands of years holds great promise as a viable, scalable mitigation strategy for addressing climate change.”

Gaining increasing attention since 2007, biochar is elemental carbon obtained through high-temperature thermochemical decomposition of organic material (biomass) in the absence of oxygen (a process termed “pyrolysis”). The primary market for biochar is as a soil amendment, with many recent scientific studies worldwide showing it can increase agricultural yields, reduce inputs, and conserve irrigation water. The production process also yields valuable by-products such as syngas, which can be used to produce renewable energy, and heat that can be used for drying or to produce steam.

Biochar sequesters carbon and its use mitigates existing carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere. Every pound of biochar in the soil is the equivalent of sequestering 3 pounds of carbon dioxide. Biochar thus has the potential to help limit climate change while increasing soil fertility, raising agricultural productivity, and reducing pressure on forests.

USBI director Gloria Flora notified SBI of their selection by the USBI Advisory Board. SBI was chosen for its practical, enterprising focus on biochar opportunities, the abundance of agricultural partners in the region, and the county’s national standing as a leader in addressing climate change.

“California’s reputation for progressive environmental and energy policy and its extensive venture capital resources provide an excellent setting for showcasing this innovative technology,” said conference director Oren Wool. “The environmental professionals I speak with are excited about biochar’s potential and possible influence in carbon markets. And when I mention biochar to grape growers and farmers they are very receptive to building quality soil and conserving water. Everybody wants to learn more. While we plan for the July 2012 conference, the Sonoma Biochar Initiative is working with local farmers on the best way to get biochar into the ground in Sonoma County.”

About the Conference
The 2012 US Biochar Conference is designed to advance understanding of the economic, scientific and policy issues related to biochar as both an amendment for soils as well as an agent for carbon sequestration. To learn more, sponsor, or register for the conference, visit www.2012.biochar.us.com.

About USBI and SBI
The United States Biochar Initiative (USBI) is a not-for-profit organization promoting the sustainable production and use of biochar through research, policy, technology, and practical application. For more information, visit www.biochar-us.org.

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI), a California-based organization dedicated to promoting biochar education, production and use throughout Sonoma County. SBI is sponsored by the Sonoma Ecology Center, a Sonoma Valley non- profit working collaboratively to sustain and enhance ecological health. For more information, visit www.sonomabiocharinitiative.org and www.sonomaecologycenter.org.

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