CBA News

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative would like to thank the amazing cross section of people  who attended and contributed to our recent Biochar Forum at Shone Farm in Sonoma County. Representatives from local RCD’s, NRCS, UC Cooperative Extension, a variety of farms, SCWA, Fire Safe Councils, the Sonoma County Forest Working Group, the County of Sonoma,  two of the largest biochar producers on the West Coast, and many others just interested in how biochar fits into a low-carbon economy, shared ideas and ways to use biochar to solve common problems. Special thanks to Michael Maguire from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research for his update on the exciting grant projects and efforts to quantify biochar’s benefits that are supported through state funding, to Susan Haydon of Sonoma Water for her logistical help, and to Shone Farm for the use of their beautiful space.
Charlie McIntosh of Pacific Biochar presents recent results from SBI’s 
DWR grant project at a vineyard near King City, Ca.
We are in the process of building a new coalition of stakeholders to scale biochar education and use both locally and throughout the state, so stay tuned. We will be holding a number of additional meetings in 2019 so if you missed this one you will have other chances to join this growing group of problem solvers seeking a better way to convert our bounty of surplus biomass resources and put them to better use as biochar in agriculture and elsewhere.


New Ice on Fire Climate Change Documentary Highlights Biochar

An important new climate change documentary, co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and his father George DiCaprio and financed by HBO Films, is now streaming on HBO, and it has been streaming for free at  The filmmakers traveled the world to document how fast the climate is changing and to interview a number of experts on the unfolding climate crisis. The focus of the film, however, is on a number of positive and existing methods we can use to drawdown carbon and (hopefully) slow the warming to under 2 degrees C, including biochar production and use, kelp farming, afforestation and reforestation, and direct air capture technology.

You can see the trailer here:

There will be a major fundraising effort tied to the film that will generate money for major tree planting and biochar projects through the Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc.; a large number of kelp farms under the direction of Bren Smith’s fantastic company Greenwave; and direct air capture machines from Europe. CBA will play a part in helping to secure the farms and biochar suppliers for the project and acting in an advisory capacity. Coupled with the great new book “Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth” by Albert Bates and Kathleen Draper, and the fact that biochar was cited in the latest U.N. IPCC Special Report as one of the least expensive and most easily scalable technologies to drawdown excess C02 from the atmosphere, biochar production and use is leaping onto the world stage as something of critical value in the massive fight for ecosystem survival that lies ahead of us.



USBI Biochar Conference 2019




The California Strategic Growth Council has awarded two significant grants for biochar-related research. Ken Alex, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and SGC Chair said, “The SGC research grants are designed to fill gaps in our knowledge about some of the most promising climate change solutions, and move them more quickly to fruition.” Biochar production and use was highlighted in the most recent IPCC climate change report as one of the least expensive and easily scaled methods of drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, and this recognition has helped bring the biochar story to the forefront of many climate change mitigation discussions and actions. There is, however, much research that still needs to be done to better characterize which types of biochar will persist the longest in varying agricultural soils, under what type of farming protocols, as well as creation of a standardized system for rating biochars based on a set of common criteria and characteristics. Gaining acceptance from the farming community for biochar production and use using surplus biomass will also be critical for scaling its use, and this will also be studied. These are some of the gaps in our knowledge about biochars that should be better understood and hopefully answered once this climate-change focused research and field trials are completed. Congratulations to Benjamin Z. Houlton of the UC Davis Muir Institute and collaborators who will be working on a $4.7 million grant project entitled “CALIFORNIA COLLABORATIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS: WORKING LANDS INNOVATION CENTER—CATALYZING NEGATIVE CARBON EMISSIONS.” “The Working Lands Innovation Center’s objective is to scale and sustain CO2 capture and GHG emissions reductions by deploying a suite of cutting-edge soil amendment technologies, driving substantial co-benefits for California growers, ranchers, Tribes, communities, the economy, and environment. This project will increase understanding of the mechanisms and potential for carbon sequestration in soil.” More information on this grant can be found here: And congratulations to Gerardo Diaz of UC Merced and collaborators who will be working on the $3 million grant project entitled “MOBILE BIOCHAR PRODUCTION FOR METHANE EMISSION REDUCTION AND SOIL AMENDMENT.” “The overall goal of this proposal is to determine how biochar can be produced and used in a closed cycle agricultural application to reduce GHG emissions, ameliorate agricultural waste disposal problems, improve the quality of life in low-income and disadvantaged farming and adjacent communities, and identify means to gain acceptance among farmers of small-scale biochar production and use as a sustainable best practice for California agriculture.” More information on this grant can be found here:

We were contacted a few months back by a young man from Cincinnati, Ohio named Andrew Ying who attends a piano studio that holds a fundraiser for good causes each year.  He had been reading up on biochar and was excited about its potential to help address climate change, and he thought CBA would be a good recipient of the funds from the recital this year. I graciously accepted the offer.  Because of Andrew and his partner Liam Riggins’ efforts on CBA’s behalf, the smiling group of budding musicians shown below learned about one powerful and positive solution that can be used to address climate change while also generously giving to our organization.  Thank you to Dr. Frautschi for sponsoring this fine event each year, to Andrew and Liam, and to everyone who contributed to help make our world a better place. Every single effort like this matters, and the money they raised will help us educate others about how the production and use of biochar can help address a number of important issues of our time, including better “waste” management, job creation, renewable energy production, improved soil health and agricultural output, replacement of fossil or chemical-based industrial materials with renewable sources, and of course, carbon sequestration. Below is a short description of the event and a wonderful picture of the group. Raymond Baltar, Director CBA   On February 16, 2019, in the Watson Hall of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, the piano studio of Dr. Takako Frautschi held a fundraising recital for the California Biochar Association. Organized by Andrew Ying and Liam Riggins, both students at Walnut Hills High School, and a total of 21 children participated. The recital began with a slideshow presentation showcasing the benefits of biochar with a recorded message from the director of the CBA, Raymond Baltar. The performances ranged from elementary pieces such as Honeybee, to the more advanced music of Frédéric Chopin. At the reception, the students posted hearts onto a trifold board along with their contributions, expressing one thing they love about our world that is helped by biochar and received buttons depicting the recital’s mascot, Biocharlie.


We have some exciting plans for CBA this year and we need your support to help expand our efforts to scale biochar production and use. Check back soon for more details.  Click on the donate button above to make a tax deductible donation.  The Sonoma Ecology Center, a 501C3 with a 25-year track record,  is our fiscal sponsor. Thank you in advance!  


If you haven’t yet seen the great film Dirt Rich which profiles some of our good friends (Josiah Hunt, David Morell, Bob Wells) you can stream it for a small fee here:



Biochar Field Day

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), in cooperation with the University of California at David,  recently held a well attended Biochar Field Day near Winters, California.

The event brought together researchers, industry representatives and other interested stakeholders to discuss the feasibility of biochar use in agroecosystems. Presentations highlighted research, showcased available resources, and provided up-to-date information on biochar use in California agriculture. CBA was well represented with a number of members in attendance and a poster presentation was given on CBA’s mission and goals. Members attending were Steve Fehrer from Butte College, Grant Sheve from Oregon Biochar Solutions, Sophia Pant from Butte College, Michael Maguire from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Thor Bailey, Green Carbon Nexus, David Morell and Raymond Baltar from Sonoma Ecology Center, Kevin Foley from Premier Mushrooms, and Bob Norman.



State of California Natural and Working Lands Sector

GHG Reductions and Carbon Sequestration Goals for California’s Forests, Rangelands, Wetlands, and Farms

Natural and Working Lands


Stay Informed


News from CBA Members: 5/5/18  Butte College BIOCHAR R&D Team and Friends:

We had a great Biochar Lab day today at Butte College, preparing the BOG Biochar/Soil pot-test with BOG soil and biochar to be run through the Summer of 2018.
This is just a quick notice with some pictures to let you know that the long planned experiment has been started. We will publish an initial report on the experiment design and preparations. The intent is to locate the test-pots at BOG over the summer for monitoring soil moisture levels in the test-pots with various amounts of biochar cover in comparison to undisturbed in-situ soil with the same surface treatments and under the same weather exposures.
The experiment is on its way!
Great job today, BIOCHAR Team!
Stephen I. Feher
Executive Director, Sustainable Community Development Institute (SCDI)
Associate Faculty, Engineering and Technical Director, Biochar R&D Projects at Butte College
Tel: (530)872-1403
Cell: (530)327-8355


I have found this Biochar Network Twitter feed to have some great links to biochar activities around the world.  Check it out. Raymond Baltar Save Save