fermented biochar

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How to ferment freshly made Biochar


Bryan McGrath ProKashi Probiotics

This presentation has been produced for and at the request of Mr. Yvan Pascall Perrin. It is in support of his efforts to produce Biochar under a grant from UNDP and the National Government of Cambodia.

The intent is to use techniques employed and demonstrated by Bryan McGrath and ProKashi Probiotics - USA. These techniques are adapted from the Korean Natural Farming method as developed by Master Han-Kyu Cho.

The ultimate goal is to produce a dry finished product made from Biochar (rice straw / husk or grass) that has undergone fermentation using Indigenous Microorganisms.

The inputs necessary will be locally sourced, readily available, and inexpensive.

Product applications will be for compost mixing and/or directly spread to soils. These techniques will be locally adapted and modified to account for various soil quality and conditions.

The process will be technically simple enough such that an average person with no or minimal education can successfully perform and duplicate them time after time with little more than a container and a simple hand tool.

No electrical power or refrigeration will be necessary to produce, store, or employ these techniques. Personal protective gear can consist of little more than a cloth cover for the mouth and face to protect the farmer from dust.

High Absorption High Adsorption High Surfaced Area Highly Recalcitrant

Fresh Biochar will tend to lock up and hold soil nutrients in its freshly made state.This will cause crop stress and nutrient deficiencies for an unacceptable period of time.

The chemical conversion into simpler substances: the breakdown of carbohydrates by microorganisms.

Taking advantage of the high surface area, attractant qualities, and by adding organic matter along with beneficial microbes, one will eliminate nutrient deficiencies caused by Biochar in its fresh state.

Fermented Biochar has an additive effect on soil fertility and plant growth.

Through microbial action and Biochars adsorbent/absorbent qualities, nutrients will be sequestered and converted into biologically available plant ready forms.

These qualities and soil fertility will increase and mature over time.

This will allow plants to reach their full natural potential while reducing watering and fertilization requirements.

Several methods are available and flexible to the materials being used to ferment the Biochar. Wet Method Dry Method Chemical Input Natural Input

The microorganisms that ProKashi Probiotics utilizes to ferment biochar are produced locally and at low cost following the Korean Natural Farming Method. This requires no special tools or equipment and can be made in the field or at home.


are Indigenous Non genetically modified Are the strongest best suited for the location Can be cultured to be crop specific Can be used in either a wet or dry technique

Regardless of the technique (Wet or Dry) IMO must be collected, cultivated, and stored for usage. The IMO used are: Lacto Bacillus Bamboo Microbe Forest Microbe

Lactic Acid Bacteria. This bacteria is a fermenting bacteria that has sterilizing qualities. It is facultative in that it works in both aerobic and anaerobic environments.

It is the primary decomposer that produces disease suppressing enzymes and natural antibiotics.

This is a collection of microbes cultured from highly bacterial (Bamboo) soil.

Bacterially dominated soil tends to favor lower order earlier succession plants such as grasses and produce crops.It provides a wide array of biology in support of the Soil Food Web .

This is a collection of microbes cultured from highly fungal (Forest) soil.

Fungal dominated soil tends to favor higher order, later/climax succession growth such as trees.It provides a wide array of mychorrizal support to the plants root system increasing symbiotic relationships and nutrient transport to the plant.

BIM is a concoction of: Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) IMO2 Bamboo IMO2 Forest Natural Sugar (Molasses, Muscovado, Brown Sugar, etc)

The basic BIM formula is: total volume LAB total volume IMO2 Bamboo total volume IMO2 ForestNatural sugars such as molasses are added as a microbial food during fermentation.

Biochar is produced and placed into a water tight container. A basic liquid BIM concoction is diluted with non chlorinated water at a ration of 1:1:30 (BIM:Sugar:Water). Basic liquid is poured into container so that the Biochar is just covered.

The container is covered to keep debris, bugs, pests out of the fermenting Biochar not air tight. The container is kept out of direct sunlight. The container is kept between 8C and 30C for 1-2 weeks to allow for the microbial growth to inhabit the Biochar.

Add non chlorinated water as necessary to keep the Biochar surface wet.Drain the liquid and save it. I has nutrient and biological value that can be used as a soil drench.

Spread the Biochar to the area desired and incorporate it into the first 7cm to 20cm of soil.

7-20 cm zone of soil is an aerobic zone. IMO Bamboo and Forest are aerobic microbes and will do best in this area.LAB being facultative will survive easily in this area as well as in any anaerobic pockets present.

LAB will tend to make anaerobic pockets light, airy, and aerobic in time.

Additional inputs can be added to the BIM concoction during fermentation to alter or increase certain nutritional values and requirements for the crop being grown: Fish Emulsion Seaweed Extract Humic Acid Fermented Plant Juice Fermented Fruit Juice Urine

Dry fermentation involves cultivation of the microbes and additional inputs on a solid substrate such as rice bran, wheat bran, fresh compost,or wood chips.

The Biochar is then incorporated into the microbial substrate allowing the biology to migrate into and inhabit the char.

Dry fermentation has the advantage over wet fermentation of requiring less microbial inputs.Less LAB and IMO2 is required.

Indigenous Microorganism production has certain numbers associated with it.Previously the term IMO2 was used and the following details what IMO1, IMO2, IMO3, IMO4 are.

IMO1 stands for the first stage of the indigenous microbe collection and cultivation process.

This first (1) stage uses a complex carbohydrate source to attract and collect the desired microbes Bamboo/bacterial or Forest/Fungal The preferred complex carbohydrate source is dry cooked rice.

IMO2 stands for the second stage of the indigenous microbe collection and cultivation process.

This second (2) fermentation stage uses simple sugar to rapidly multiply and tremendously increase the numbers of the collected microbes.

The preferred sugar source is non sulphered molasses, muscovado, or brown sugar.Use whatever is locally available and the least expensive.

IMO3 stands for the third stage of the indigenous microbe collection and cultivation process.

This third (3) fermentation stage uses the cultured IMO2 solution as part of the BIM concoction and adds the liquid to a dry substrate.This forces the microbes to change their food source and metabolism from the simple sugar food of IMO2 to the food source that they will find most prominent in nature (complex carbohydrates)

The preferred source is rice bran or wheat mill run. Use whatever is locally available and the least expensive.

Biochar can be mixed into the rice bran or wheat bran at this point.The standard fermentation process of IMO3 (substrate without Biochar) will work just as well or better with the incorporation of the Biochar.

IMO4 stands for the fourth stage of the indigenous microbe collection and cultivation process.

This fourth (4) fermentation stage simply takes IMO3 and mixes it with an equal amount of native soil (amounts by volume) and allows the fermentation to continue for 57 days.The preferred soil source is from the crop field itself.

The IMO1 and IMO2 stages are fairly constant; collect and multiply microbes.This is accomplished with rice and simple sugars.

The IMO3 and IMO4 stages allow a host of options to add additional inputs if desired or necessary.

As can be seen, an investment of 20 liters of non chlorinated water with only a few CC of IMO2 and LAB can be diluted to between 1:1:100 (BIM:Sugar:Water) to 1:500 (BIM:Sugar:Water) to make IMO3 and thus ferment the Biochar successfully.

Wet fermentation of Biochar requires more liquid input and is most suited for the small gardener making amounts of biochar in the range of 60 liters or less.

1 Sack of IMO3 rice bran 1 sack of native soil 3 to 5 sacks of Biochar BIM diluted 1:1:100 Water necessary to make correct moisture of materialsMix together and fermented for 7-15 days.

The amount of water necessary depends upon the dry materials being used.Regardless of the water amount, BIM should be diluted at 1:1:100 (BIM:Sugar;Water).

Mismanagement of moisture is the number one reason for composting failure.

The proper moisture content of IMO3 and IMO3/Biochar mix can be easily approximated by hand with not special electronic or other measuring tool.

Field Capacity is the term used to describe the correct moisture content of soil, Compost, IMO3, Bokashi Bran, etc.

With both hands pick up a quantity of the material to be checked.Squeeze the material tightly between the hands and observe the following:

If water drips out from between your hands the material is too wet.

If no water drips out but the material crumbles away and does not hold its shape, then the material is too dry.

If no water drips out, the material holds its shape, but breaks apart easil