Check all experience and education that apply to you and your farming partnersAgriculture-related college degree, Farm/Crop management (3 years or less)
Briefly describe your current occupation(s) and responsibilities and list previous agricultural employment and experiences. If you are currently farming or ranching, please state the size, type(s), and location of the operation.I am not currently farming. I grew up in Missoula and have worked on organic farms in Northern California for two summers where I helped cultivate and harvest a variety of summer crops (cabbage, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, melons, potatoes, squash, lettuce, and berries). I have a Master's degree in Agronomy from New Mexico State University, so I am familiar with soil characteristics, irrigation practices, and crop growth requirements. I am currently making biochar (carbonized wood) from tree waste and intend to process it for use as a soil amendment to grow annual and perennial crops.
Counties of interestLake, Missoula, Ravalli, Sanders
Planned OperationVegetable, Fruit/Orchard, Other
Farming PracticesOrganic, Other
Please elaborate on the type(s) of agricultural operation you plan on running.Initially, I am interested in growing vegetable crops and possibly fruit trees or hemp. However, my main interest is in using waste plant materials (e.g., crop residues, woody invasives, and tree prunings) to make biochar. Biochar is charcoal made from dried biomass. It can be made in simple outdoor kilns that are designed to carbonize plant matter by excluding oxygen. The process, called pyrolysis, is capable of converting half of the carbon content in the biomass (feedstock) into a stable form of carbon. This carbon, or biochar, can be processed into small-diameter particles and used as a soil amendment that is effective at retaining nutrients and promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms. I would like to establish demonstration plots to compare yields between 1) plots with biochar and 2) plots without biochar.
I am looking for a landowner who has extra biomass (crop residues or wood waste) that he/she would normally burn or otherwise transport for disposal. Biochar can also be combined with animal and green manures to generate rich composts. The physical properties of biochar are effective at trapping odors and accelerating the composting process.