2013 North American Biochar Symposium

Harvesting Hope:
The Science & Synergies of Biochar

October 13-16, 2013 at UMASS Amherst

Why should you consider attending the October 13-16, 2013 North American Biochar Symposium?

Here are just a few reasons (adapted in part from Albert Bates book, The Biochar Solution):

  1. Because you understand your dependence upon agriculture and want to better understand how biochar benefits soil by stimulating microbial activity, attracting fungi and distributing nutrients to the roots of plants, much as a coral reef supports the ocean. You’ll also want to know how the micropores in biochar provides a “reservoir and conduit for soil moisture, soaking up water from over-saturated areas and giving it back to dry areas”
  2. Because you care about sustainable agriculture and want to learn from others addressing the complex challenges of preserving ecosystem services, enhancing soil fertility, increasing water absorption while decreasing the amount needed, employing human and animal labor, as well as sequestering carbon.
  3. Because you worry about the complicated and unsustainable use of fossil fuels and want to explore energy alternatives. You want to see solutions that successfully address a rigorous life cycle analysis with full disclosure and transparency.
  4. Because you want to know that there is a hopeful answer to the climate issues we are facing globally; and because you understand that community education and engagement is the most hopeful solution for individual and collective changes that can sustain and support life on this planet.
  5. AND, importantly, because you want to support the people researching biochar and operating businesses that are producing and distributing biochar so that all of the above can continue to develop and succeed.

Four main tracts to the North American Biochar Symposium:

1. Feedstocks and Technology
This track covers the “science” of biochar from eligible feedstocks (and there are many) through the conversion to chars that are ready to go into the ground.

  • Note that post-pyrolysis operations, from grinding to composting and blending with other soil amendments ARE within this section. 
  • We propose to cluster several papers around a central issue, such as “To what extent do feedstocks versus thermal conversion technology/conditions dictate char properties”.
  • Some sessions may be quite focused, such as measuring char properties and using the measurements to predict char performance in the field” or “Predicting and quantifying Carbon Stability in the soil”, while others may be more open-ended, like “If we are making Designer Chars, what considerations go into designing them, how is the information used, and how does the resulting char differ”?

2. Biochar Benefits
This track follows naturally as biochar passes from the producers and distributors to the consumers and includes:

  • Agriculture, including flora & fauna
  • Forestry, including hardwood, softwood, urban and peri-urban, and mobile carbonization
  • Remediation
  • Landscaping, including rain & roof gardens
  • Storm Water Treatment
  • Nutrient Harvesting (including the shift to NPK-C solutions)
  • Climate Change Mitigation

3. Scale, Sales and Marketing
This track will emphasize making biochar into a successful business on many different levels. It is possible that many specific papers would fall in two categories, especially where a unique device is the basis of making the char and also serves as the core of a business model. Such submittals will be placed where they have the most relevancy.

  • Sustainability, including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), industrial ecology, etc.
  • Climate, Carbon Credits, and other ecosystem service markets
  • Energy, including ROI and sales strategies for energy
  • Jobs (trends, projections, management, etc.)
  • Customer Tools: how to effectively educate, brand and market
  • Biochar Industry Reports 
  • Business Models (vertical integration vs specializing, modeling the value chain, financing models, etc.)

4. Policy and Community Engagement
We would like to review presentations that expand our understanding of the following subjects:

  • Government Policy affecting Research, Agriculture & Energy grant programs
  • Regulatory and Certification developments
  • Soil carbon sequestration ISO standards and protocols
  • Carbon farming initiatives, EU certification & environmental compliance
  • Directions for research at ARS – USDA, USGS, NASA & NOAA
  • Stories of bureaucratic roads well followed, local hoops successfully navigated, lessons learned from dead ends and disallowed variances
  • Experiences to guide a growing Biochar community establishing businesses at all scales and applications
  • From fire-chiefs to City Halls to the halls of Congress, we want to hear of your lobbying efforts, with NGOs and foundations, climate action committees, political campaigns, emphasizing the myriad ecological services rendered.
  • Surveys and census taking of effectiveness and scope of all char applications will be welcomed data for convincing principle investors and grantors.

We would also like to see models for dissemination and utility, ranging from:

  • Char-B-Q parties
  • educational programs, science fair victories
  • public and private large-scale farmer training programs which echo the exponential growth of biologic systems
  • industry and producers efforts to engage the public’s imagination
  • open houses and demonstrations, field Days and festivals, programs and projects that go beyond the self interest of marketing
  • Crowd sourcing models of participatory philanthropy, community field testing, “kickstarter” type funding, etc,
  • urban gardening allotments, CSAs, co-ops, Farmer’s Markets and other grass roots community supported efforts integral to spreading the word (and char)

One goal of this symposium is to showcase the “science” of biochar and establish to what extent it is understood. Research into biochar continues, but one should be able to establish what can be understood with confidence and what should utilized with less certainty. 

We plan on video-taping all sessions and making them available on the web and we strongly urge presenters to prepare reprints of the talk that contain the specific data and appropriate analysis. In this manner, the premise and conclusions can be presented and readers can be referred to the reprint for validation. Some sessions will feature the presentation of the papers and a common Q&A period accessing all presenters. At a minimum, all powerpoint slides will have to be released for web distribution prior to presentation – we will not have presenters withdrawing the information they presented after leaving the podium. 

As for the specific topics that will constitute this track, we are awaiting the abstract submissions to aggregate the symposia. Keeping that process in mind, if any presenter would like to serve to organize a session around one central issue, please volunteer to orchestrate such a session, perhaps reaching out to colleagues in the biochar space.

Additionally, a trade show exhibition is expected to be hosted on campus at the University of Massachusetts. We are actively seeking participation from current biochar producers and technology manufacturers/distributors as well as the many supporting organizations including: 

  • Certification bodies
  • Packaging companies
  • Biomass providers
  • Waste Management
  • Compost Companies
  • Brokers
  • Carbon and Eco-system service market organizations
  • and Other vendors for biochar companies

OUR PLEDGES

We are attempting to be the first ever CARBON NEGATIVE conference. We also plan to provide STUDENT and FARMER SCHOLARSHIPS. It is time for serious soil and climate leadership and action!

ADD YOUR IDEAS

If you have ideas or suggestions about what you would like to present, or how to make this conference especially fabulous, please send them to Karen Ribeiro: Karen@pvbiochar.org

Track Chairs:

Hugh McLaughlin, Feedstocks & Technology
Kathleen Draper, Benefits of Biochar
Amanda Ravenhill, Scale, Sales & Marketing
Erich Knight, Policy & Community Engagement

Planning Team:

Gloria Flora, Lloyd Helferty, Judith Gillan*, Peter King*, Ron Larson, Tom Miles, Alan Page, Karen Ribeiro*, Jonathan Spiegel*, Dick Stein* and Ted Wysocki*
(* denotes PVBI Member)

With every sponsorship (sponsorships start at $1,000):

  • Exhibit space – table, skirt and two chairs
  • Website listing in respective category – including but not limited to: www.pvbiochar.org
  • Program contact listing in respective category on sponsor page
  • One complimentary registration
  • One parking pass for each day of the conference
  • Participation in gift bag offering
  • Access to sponsor networking lounge
  • invitation to host table topic(s) during lunch
  • invitation to submit/present a 5 minute, 20-slide Ignite talk (submissions to be voted on by committee)

“>> View Exhibitor Sponsor Agreement

Premier Sponsor (1 at $20,000):

  • direct, facilitated interface with UMass researchers
  • bus advertisement on UMass buses
  • UMass campus center advertisemen
  • feature in each 2500+ outreach email announcements
  • program back cover ad and contact listing on sponsor page
  • recognition in PVBI endowment materials
  • four (total) complimentary registrations with campus hotel housing
  • invitation to collaborate with UMass students studying biochar
  • invitation to participate in article featured in the Daily Collegian and Daily Hampshire Gazette
  • invitation to place materials on registration table

 > View Premier Sponsor Agreement

Carbon Negative Sponsor (1 at $10,000): 

  • feature in each 2500+ outreach email announcements
  • invitation to speak/moderate a plenary
  • program ½ page ad and contact listing on sponsor page
  • recognition in PVBI endowment materials
  • four (total) complimentary registrations with campus hotel housing
  • invitation to collaborate with UMass students studying biochar
  • invitation to participate in article featured in the Daily Collegian and Daily Hampshire Gazette
  • invitation to place materials on registration table

> View Carbon Negative Sponsor Agreement

Speaker Sponsor (2 at $10,000):

  • direct interface with speaker
  • invitation to give speaker introduction
  • feature in each 2500+ outreach email announcements
  • program ½ page ad on inside cover and contact listing on sponsor page
  • recognition in PVBI endowment materials
  • four (total) complimentary registrations with campus hotel housing
  • invitation to collaborate with UMass students studying biochar
  • invitation to participate in article featured in the Daily Collegian and Daily Hampshire Gazette
  • invitation to place materials on registration table

> View Speaker Sponsor Agreement

Track Sponsors (4 at $5,000):

  • spotlight feature in track email announcements
  • invitation to give spotlight announcement during track introduction
  • recognition at each track presentation
  • four complimentary registrations
  • invitation to collaborate with UMass students studying biochar
  • invitation to participate in article featured in the Daily Collegian and Daily Hampshire Gazette
  • invitation to place materials on registration table

> View Track Sponsor Agreement

The Pioneer Valley is a fabulous place to visit during harvest season. Leaf peeping excursions on foot, bike or on tour are sure to satisfy the senses!

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