Local forestry group hosts Biochar Field Day on October 22

Farmers, gardeners, and others often add biochar to their soil to increase water quality, soil fertility and agricultural productivity as well as reduce pressure on old-growth forests. (File Image)

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. — The Elk Valley Forestry Association recently announced a Biochar Fall Field Day on Saturday, October 22. The event will be held on the farm of Kevin Sanders, more widely known as the Jack Daniel’s Barrel Man. Participants can watch Sanders and company turn white oak whiskey barrels into biochar.

What is biochar? It’s the lightweight, black residue – made of carbon an ashes – leftover after burning wood. It can be used to increase soil health. It a carbon negative process that places carbon in the soil rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. It retains water, which improves drought tolerance, and it holds nutrients that promote strong root and plant growth. If added to a compost pile, it can also speed up the composting process and reduce odors. It does all this as a 100 percent organic material with no chemicals or synthetic additives.

The process dates back to South America nearly 5,000 years ago where Amazonians mixed biochar with manure to create soil. On the Sanders Farm, they use wood byproducts leftover from working with white oak whiskey barrels.

This field day will focus on an issue faced by many local forest landowners.  While high quality timber brings top dollar, existing hardwood stands in our area often are of marginal quality.  A key contributing factor is the historical common practice of successive diameter limited harvests over time.  The primary markets for such timber are small sawmills producing cross ties, barn wood, and pallet material or pulp mills. Volume required and prices paid in these markets provide limited incentive to landowners to improve their forests.  We need additional markets and biochar may be one.

EVFA President Wayne Glenn

On October 22, participants can tour the BioChar 6 facility on the Sanders Farm and learn about state and federal grants that might allow you to utilize the process at your current wood business. They’ll also discuss the business side of biochar including creating new markets and marketing.

The field day is hosted by Tennessee Forestry Association, Elk Valley Forestry Association, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, BioChar6, and the White Oak Initiative. 

The event is free but donation will be accepted. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and tours and speakers will start promptly at 9 a.m. Lunch will provided and each attendee will receive a free 50 pound bag of BioChar 6. Organizers also plan to giveaway a STIHL chainsaw as a door prize. Anyone interested should RSVP no later than October 14 by calling 256-801-5888 or emailing [email protected]. You can also send the Elk Valley Forestry Association a message on FB by clicking here.

The event will take place at 99 Wagoner Hill Road in Fayetteville. Four-wheel drive vehicles will be necessary to access the lunch location overlooking Monteagle Mountain. Shuttles will be available. Children 12 and older are welcome to attend. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}