BioRich: Feeding Biochar to Ruminants
October 2018 - October 2019
Richard Copely of Manor Farm Tree Services Ltd
As a result of our work with biochar, in 2018 Jerry Alford, of Innovative Farmers, contacted Donna to see if she could assist on an Innovative Farmers project. They had a group of farmers interested using biochar as a cattle feed supplement. There was already some evidence that adding biochar to cattle diets had some beneficial health outcomes for the cows, but Innovative Farmers were keen to find out if there were benefits in terms of emissions to air from manure and whether biochar and manure combined to improve grass growth.
Agriculture now finds itself in a changing landscape where old methods and expectations are now being questioned, be they emissions from agricultural practices, antibiotic and chemical anthelmintic use, the general sustainability of stock rearing practices, soil erosion and carbon levels as well as the changing trading conditions that are likely to affect upland Wales particularly. It is therefore critical that new, holistic, methods are found to improve animal and soil health whilst benefiting the environment and financially supporting farmers.
Thus, this trial aims to find a use for biochar, as a by-product of charcoal making or renewable energy production, which also delivers improved animal health and soil carbon levels with the potential additional benefits of decreased anthelmintic use, soil improvement and climate change mitigation. The trial will create and transfer knowledge and innovations, strengthening links between the public, farmers, charitable and academic institutions.
- To engage farmers in finding climate change and sustainable agricultural practices
- To investigate the effect of biochar and manure mixtures on soil health and carbon storage in soil.
This project has already directly engaged with both the general public and with farmers though, for instance, a 9 minute item on Countryfile and through various press articles.
For more information on this project contact Donna Udall