By Katy Nesbitt
For Wallowa Valley Online

ENTERPRISE, Ore – A demonstration will be staged in Wallowa County next week, showcasing a new advancement in slash reduction and soil amendment that is quickly gaining traction around the West.

ROI Equipment, a New Hampshire company, is operating its mobile carbonator, a machine that converts slash piles into biochar, on a Hancock Timber logging site north of Enterprise Jan. 23.

Kyle Petrocine, renewal energy manager at Wallowa Resources said, “Biochar holds the potential of converting forest residuals/thinning/fuel reduction materials into a value added product that improves soil health.”

Biochar is an activated charcoal used as a soil amendment to moderate acidity and increase water and nutrient retention. It benefits agricultural production, especially in the late summer and early fall when water supplies diminish.

Nil Christoffersen, Wallowa Resources executive director, said, “Biochar derived from forest stewardship or restoration projects has the potential to generate multiple benefits in an agricultural setting. Soil health, water carrying capacity, and farm productivity can all be enhanced through biochar application.”

Community Solutions, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of Wallowa Resources, will be evaluating biochar’s market potential, including the expansion of an existing on-farm trial with several Wallowa County farmers and explore potential retail markets as well as carbon sequestration markets, Christoffersen said.

As for reducing forest debris, making biochar out of logging slash could help forest managers clean up potential forest fire fuels, make a marketable product out of something that would typically be burned on site, and reduce slash burning and smoke pollution in the Wallowa Valley

Christoffersen said Community Solutions will evaluate the cost of biochar production, using forest restoration material, in partnership with Integrated Biomass Resources.

The biochar demonstration will be hosted by Wallowa Resources, Integrated Biomass Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry at 10 a.m. Jan. 23 on Hancock Timber land approximately 26 miles north of Enterprise on the west side of Highway 3, across from the Forest Road 46 turn-off.

For more information, contact Kyle Petrocine at 541-398-0018 or kyle@wallowaresources.org.

 


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