Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative


by Brian Lewis - November 13th, 2016.
Filed under: Articles.

Back when blacksmiths were still in business there were charcoal makers in and around Macclesfield who used the abundant timber resources of the area to make charcoal for the blacksmiths in the town and beyond. A local landmark by the name of Retort Hill is said to be the site of a charcoal making operation back in the 1860’s. (A retort is the technical term for a vessel designed to heat materials in order to purify them or distil other substances from them without actually burning them. So when wood was heated in the retort the moisture, tar and wood gas were driven off leaving behind only charcoal.)

Fast forward 150 years and Macclesfield is now the site of a small but progressive bio-charcoal making enterprise. It is called bio-charcoal or simply biochar these days because the emphasis now is on making charcoal for agricultural use AND to capture carbon rather than burning it as in days of yore.

Greg Marlu established SA Biochar Works near Macclesfield to concentrate on making biochar for use in the garden, either by applying it directly to the soil or by mixing it with compost.

Greg is an active supporter of the Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative, having demonstrated how to make a gasifier kiln and shared his knowledge of how to operate the kiln safely and effectively at a working bee earlier this year.

I have seen the biochar making process in action at SA Biochar Works and have no hesitation in recommending their biochar for home garden use. I say this because Greg only uses wood waste, only waste from local timber, only uncontaminated timber, takes care not to allow smoke emissions during operation, and crushes the char to a consistent and small particle size amenable to soil application.

For further details on how to purchase biochar from Macclesfield go to:

Brian Lewis
Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative

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