04e. FAQs for participating farmers – Cambodia

It has been great working with farmers from different areas and different organisations – thank you if you are a participating farmer!
Here are some FAQs which have been asked about the trials:

Who is running the biochar trials?
The University of Edinburgh (Scotland, United Kingdom) are working with many organisations to research biochar and agriculture. Ms. Sarah Carter is working in Siem Reap to co-ordinate the trials.

What are the trials for?
We are testing biochar in the soil to see if it benefits the soil, and improves crop growth.

What is biochar?
It is burned organic matter (e.g. wood, coconut husks). It has to be burned at high temperatures, with little oxygen (or air) in the process.

Where does the biochar come from?
For our trials we use biochar from a ice factory in Kralanh District Town, which burns rice husks for energy.

Where will the biochar go?
Biochar will be added to the soil in specific amounts, on areas which have been measured out. More than one area may be selected, and it will be selected randomly.

How will the biochar get added to the soil?
We will bring bags of biochar to the site and spread the right amount onto the soil. Then it can be ploughed in to the soil.

What else can I add to the soil?
When participating in the field trials, you should manage the farm as you would normally. Don’t change anything for the trials.

Is there anything I should not add to the soil?
If it is possible to avoid putting charcoal, biochar or any other burned materials in the soil, that is helpful. Making fires on the land is also not helpful.

How should I look after my crops?
Do everything as you would normally do. For example, watering, adding dung / manure, getting rid of pests, treating plant diseases and weeding.

What is the most important thing to remember?
The most important thing is to do the same thing to the whole area where the trial is taking place. If there is a place where the biochar is added, don’t do anything special or different. Treat the whole field the same.

How will you know if biochar makes a difference?
When it is ready, the harvested crop will be measured, and compared with an area of crop which did not have biochar added to it. We will come and help take some measurements of your crop to see which crops have grown best.

What happens to the crop once it has been harvested?
You can do whatever you want with it after the measurements have been taken.

Will I get paid?
No, but we will give a small amount of money to compensate for your inconvenience. If there are any extra costs involved for example at harvest, we can discuss how to help out with this.

What if biochar is good, how can I get more?
We are not making a business selling biochar, we are only doing research. But if you want to use it again we can advise on potential places to get it from.

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