11. Biochar LCA

This project is not just interested in looking at the small scale soil science questions, but it is also concerned with trying to envisage how biochar use as a soil amendment can be scaled up.

This analysis includes looking at some of the issues below:
– What biomass is suitable and available for conversion
– Is there competition for feedstock use
– Which technologies are most effective for processing
– How can the feedstock be moved to the location for processing
– What handling and packing costs are involved
– How can the biochar be moved to the site
– Is there an optimal amount to moved based on a pay-off between benefits to soil and transport costs
– Are there any current haulage routes which can be utilised for larger scale biochar transportation
– What costs are involved for spreading and incorporation of biochar

Transportation costs:
Because one of the sites is very rural and the road is not suitable for trucks and cars at present, a motorbike has to be used to access the farm. This means that the biochar was transported by motorbike, and this limits the amount which can be transported in one journey.

This is Don Keo Village, Pouk District, about 40minutes motorbike ride from Siem Reap. The road which is accessible via car or truck is around 2km away from the village.

Prasat Char Village, Don Keo Commune, Pouk District. March 2010. Photo by Alan Stuart-Watt.

On farm costs:
The farmer working in Don Keo is also likely to have limited disposable income, so any costs relating to spreading and incorporation – for example tools or labour will have to be carefully calculated against the potential benefits from incorporation. Any long term benefits, where payback is over one year in the future are likely to not be appealing to some subsistence farmers.


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