The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Sean C. Morgan
Of The New Era 

Consultant describes bio-char plans


April 19, 2016

A forestry consultant told members of the Sweet Home All Lands Collaborative Monday afternoon about an Oregon State University study into possible uses for bio-char, which can be manufactured as a byproduct to logging.

Instead of burning slash, the woody material can be converted to bio-char, with several potential uses.

“Basically, for the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to figure out how we can avoid pile burning,” said Matt Delaney, a forestry consultant with Delaney Forestry, who lives between Lebanon and Sweet Home.

He hopes to find markets for low-value residuals like slash, diverting it instead of burning it.

It can serve as a filtering agent, he said. Delaney worked with Sweet Home’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, running nutrients through “bio-char columns” and testing for water quality.

“What we’re doing currently is more on the soil amendment side,” Delaney said.

Bio-char is essentially nutrient-poor, he said, but with its structure, it possibly can help hold onto nutrients and keep them from being washed away in runoff. That would mean less fertilizer is necessary on a crop.

In the OSU study, researchers are trying to see if that property can be used to boost blueberry and filbert production; and Delaney met with the SHALC committee Monday just to keep its members in the loop.

If it has enough value, it could be an incentive to loggers to sell slash instead of burning it, he said. Slash burning requires timber companies to carry insurance bonds until the removal is complete, tying up substantial amounts of cash.

The project will cost $750,000, Delaney said. The U.S. Forest Service provided a $250,000 grant through its Wood Utilization Assistant Program. The remainder is funded by private companies.


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