Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate first got the idea of turning bones into biochar while learning about regenerative agricultural practices from Australian consultant Darren Doherty. He then tracked down Scott Bagley, of Athens, Ohio, who has an exclusive license to sell the Exeter Biochar Retort, the most state-of-the-art technology available for turning wood into biochar.
WHY CALLICRATE CATTLE CO. BIO-CHAR?
The Exeter Biochar Retort is a large round oven that uses a high-heat process called pyrolysis to charcoal materials in an energy efficient, clean-burning way. As the wood or bone is charred, instead of the carbon burning off and releasing into the atmosphere, it becomes “fixed” in the charred material, which can then be finely ground and added to compost. Bone-char enhances soil by creating a more porous structure that helps retain water, improve soil aeration and encourage healthy micro-organisms. But bone-char is also a natural fertilizer, rich in calcium and phosphorous. “There’s only a limited amount of phosphorous left in the world and it is all under the control of four big mining companies,” Mike says. With reserves dwindling, demand is expected to outstrip supply as early as 2030. “Charcoal is a valuable ingredient in rebuilding healthy soils,” Mike concludes. “Blended with composted manure and other nutrient-rich organic materials from our meat processing operation, it will make a great natural fertilizer.”
“Biochar enhances plant growth and is ideal for short-season gardens. In my experimental garden bed, biochar added an extra two weeks to my harvest schedule. For many of us who grow in challenging regions, that can be more than 10 percent of our growing season. For gardeners in warmer climates and more gardener-friendly regions, two weeks of extra harvest time may not seem like much, but for me it’s substantial.”
Master Gardener, Galileo Gardens Project
How Bio-char works in the garden
Using Bio-char in the garden
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