News

Biochar revolution

Paul Taylor with his book and some homemade biochar.
Paul Taylor with his book and some homemade biochar.

Dr Paul Taylor is an astrophysicist who has worked at Harvard, NASA and MIT. In the early 1970s he was working at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in the USA alongside people who were doing early modelling on climate change.

These days he isn't looking at the stars but at the ground and how we can sequester carbon and increase soil fertility using biochar, a type of charcoal produced by the conversion of biomass under oxygen-limited conditions in a reactor.

Dr Taylor has just released a book called The Biochar Revolution, which he describes as a reference book for anyone interested in biochar and concerned about environmental issues.

The foreword has been written by Dr Tim Flannery, who says "biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity's environmental and agricultural future."

Dr Taylor said he first became interested in biochar after seeing a BBC documentary called The Secrets of El Dorado and the Magic of Terra Preta.

"It was about how the Spanish came down the Amazon and saw all these cities and roads, but later explorers didn't believe it was possible to have cities in the jungle... In the last 50 years scientists have shown there was a population there practising agriculture and increasing the fertility of soil," Dr Taylor said.

His first project was with local biochar pioneer Geoff Moxham, who was tragically killed last year near his home at Terania Creek.

"It was while working with Geoff that I became determined to write a book and I really am channelling Geoff's enthusiasm," Dr Taylor said.

As well as sequestering carbon and improving soil fertility, the pyrolysis process also creates energy.

"For hundreds of years we've been creating energy through combustion, either of coal or gas, but pyrolysis is a whole different process... We're creating energy that is carbon negative, unlike any other process, and there are a whole lot of benefits to soil and food production. It can be applied from a very small scale to a small farm scale all the way up to a commercial scale."

Dr Taylor is one of several guest speakers at a biochar education camp at Eagle Farm at Tyagarah from April 30 to May 4. He says they are hoping to attract everyone from gardeners to farmers to local councils and waste management people. There is a biochar pyrolyser at Eagle Farm and one of the things they are hoping to do is to show macadamia producers how they can convert their shells into biochar.

"There are a lot of biochar enthusiasts in the area and this will definitely be a hands-on experience. We will be making small scale devices and people will get their hands on the equipment," he said.

The cost of the workshop is $440 for five days or $350 if you book before April 17. There are also prices for two days or one day. Email potaylor@

bigpond.com for more information or phone 6679 5259.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Tony Abbott: Coalition in danger of becoming ‘Labor lite’

If only six members had changed their vote we would still have Tony Abbott as PM.

Abbott says he is disappointed and disillusioned with the government

Crikey! Why more crocs are heading south

Adam Britton of crocodile research and consulting organisation Big Gecko says the reptiles are on the move.

CROC MAP: Population boom and warmer waters drawing crocs south

MP calls for croc shooting safaris

Kennedy MP Bob Katter.

Katter says solution to crocs is a "swift, fast bullet"

Local Partners

The true cause of the Oscars bungle

THE Oscars have ended with a moment that left everyone speechless — but not in a way anyone expected.

HUGE OSCARS FAIL: Wrong film handed Best Picture award

Presenter Warren Beatty shows the envelope with the actual winner for best picture as host Jimmy Kimmel, left, looks on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The winner was originally announced as La La Land, but was later corrected to Moonlight.

IN A monumental stuff-up, La La Land incorrectly named Best Picture.

Blue Heelers' Ditch Davey joins 800 Words cast

Ditch Davey joins the cast of 800 Words as Terry, the younger brother of George, played by Erik Thomson.

George Turner's brother, Terry, arrives to Weld with a 'few demons'

Oscars winners 2017: Full list of Academy Award winners

Viola Davis accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for Fences at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

WHO won Oscars this year? Here’s a full list of every winner.

Why can’t Nicole Kidman clap properly?

Nicole Kidman's style of clapping has puzzled Oscars viewers.

FOR some reason, it seems Nicole doesn’t really know how to clap.

Muslim actor makes Oscars history

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for Moonlight at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

MOONLIGHT star Mahershala Ali makes Academy Award history.

GALLERY: Sneak peek at hit children's show coming to Lismore

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is based on the children’s book of the same name, where Eric Carle’s stories that come to life on stage.

It includes 75 puppets and adapts four childrens books to the stage.

Mining homes dive: $600k homes sell for $120k-$300k

18 Yeates Street, Moranbah sold for $135,000 in December, after being repossessed by a bank. The owners bought for $545,000 in August, 2011.

The economy still has two speeds, but with a painful twist

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!