Biochar Is Green and Makes Green...backs
Just saw this in Cool News but it is not new. I have friends who raised chickens and they said that all parts of the chicken are important - from the feathers, to the meat, to the eggs to the poop. All parts have value and use. But here is the late breaking story from USA Today:
Josh Frye is hoping it might not be long before his chicken poop is worth more than his chickens, reports Brian Winter in USA Today (2/11/10). At Josh's West Virginia farm, the chicken poop "is fed into a large, experimental incinerating machine. Out comes a charcoal-like substance known as "biochar" -- which is not only an excellent fertilizer, but also helps keep carbon in the soil instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas."
So far, Josh is churning out "as much as 9,000 pounds of biochar per day" and "has sold nearly $1,000 worth of biochar to farmers as far away as New Jersey." The process isn't new; it was "used in agriculture several centuries ago by Amazon Indians," using sources other than chicken poop (e.g., wood and switchgrass). The key is to heat the poop "in an extremely low-oxygen environment -- a process that produces no smoke and no smell."
Originally, Josh was mainly interested in using the heat to warm his chicken houses. "I thought it was crazy at first, and my wife still thinks it's nuts," he says. But now he's seeing dollar signs, and thinks he can sell "high-quality biochar for $1 a pound." How does he know the quality? He puts a little bit in his mouth. "If it's pasty and hard to swallow, then it's impure," says Josh, adding, "There's big-time time people ... looking at this."