Sonoma Biochar Initiative Hosts 2012 US Biochar Conference at Sonoma State University

Rohnert Park, CA – Those interested in soil science, carbon trading, and renewable energy are encouraged to register to attend the 2012 US Biochar Conference, held July 29 – August 1 at Sonoma State University, in Rohnert Park, California.

Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI) will host this national conference on biochar, a new technology that is gaining attention and interest in recent years from agricultural researchers and growers, entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, policy makers, policy analysts, engineers, producers, users, and students.

Raymond Baltar, SBI Director said, “We’re thrilled to be hosting this national conference at Sonoma State University and feel it will significantly boost awareness of biochar’s benefits in the local agricultural community and on the West Coast. When done responsibly and sustainably, production and use of biochar have been shown to boost crop yields, build long lasting soil fertility, and conserve water. The fact that it can also sequester carbon for hundreds or even thousands of years holds great promise as a viable, scalable mitigation strategy for addressing climate change.”

Speakers at this year’s conference include:

  • Gloria Flora, director of the U.S. Biochar Initiative and Executive Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, an organization she founded 11 years ago.
  • David Laird, Department of Agronomy professor at Iowa State University. The author of a number of related scientific articles and book chapters, Laird’s research interests include the impact of biochar on soil quality, the stability of biochar in soils, and the impact of biochar on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Johannes Lehmann, associate professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University. Lehmann specializes in soil organic matter and nutrient studies of managed and natural ecosystems, focusing on soil degradation and sustainable agriculture in the tropics (especially Africa), bio-energy, greenhouse gas emissions from soil and headwaters, and synchrotron-based methods for soil research.

Biochar is elemental carbon obtained through high-temperature thermochemical decomposition of organic material (biomass) in the absence of oxygen (a process termed “pyrolysis”). The primary market for biochar is as a soil amendment, with many recent scientific studies worldwide showing it can increase agricultural yields, reduce inputs, and conserve irrigation water. The production process also yields valuable by-products such as syngas, which can be used to produce renewable energy, and heat that can be used for drying or to produce steam.

Biochar sequesters carbon and its use mitigates existing carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere. Every pound of biochar in the soil is the equivalent of sequestering three pounds of carbon dioxide. Biochar thus has the potential to help limit climate change while increasing soil fertility, raising agricultural productivity, and reducing pressure on forests.

“California’s reputation for progressive environmental and energy policy and its extensive venture capital resources provide an excellent setting for showcasing this innovative technology,” said conference director Oren Wool. “The environmental professionals I speak with are excited about biochar’s potential and possible influence in carbon markets. And when I mention biochar to grape growers and farmers they are very receptive to building quality soil and conserving water. Everybody wants to learn more.”

About the Conference
The 2012 US Biochar Conference is designed to advance understanding of the economic, scientific and policy issues related to biochar as both an amendment for soils as well as an agent for carbon sequestration. To learn more and register for the conference, visit

About USBI and SBI
The United States Biochar Initiative (USBI) is a not-for-profit organization promoting the sustainable production and use of biochar through research, policy, technology, and practical application. For more information, visit

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative (SBI), a California-based organization dedicated to promoting biochar education, production and use throughout Sonoma County. SBI is sponsored by the Sonoma Ecology Center, a Sonoma Valley non- profit working collaboratively to sustain and enhance ecological health. For more information, visit and 

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