Monday, October 9, 2017

All Systems Go for Drew Biochar Project

If you have been thinking about coming up to help out with the biochar project outside of Drew, Oregon, we want you to know that we are still on for October 16. Some of us will arrive at the site on Sunday, October 15. We will camp out there that night so we are ready to start lighting piles and loading kilns in the morning.

We welcome your help, but ask you to please register here:

See the post below for details on how to get to the site. If you camp on the site, you need to be completely self-sufficient and bring your own food, water, and camping gear. The site is pretty rough with no developed camp sites.

We are looking forward to a productive couple of days, making as much biochar as we can from the material on the site. We will be tracking labor inputs and biochar outputs so we can better understand the economics of this work.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Need Workers for Innovative Biochar Forestry Project Starting Oct 16.

As of today (September 24) the Drew Biochar Project on the Umpqua National Forest is scheduled to start on Monday, October 16. Recent rain has made conditions safe for controlled burning. The only thing that could get in the way is if we get very heavy rain. Light rain will not stop us. If it looks like we will get rained out, we will post a rain date at

We need your help. If you are free the week of October 16, and can travel to the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon, please come and join us. You will learn how we use several types of biochar kilns and top lit open burn piles. We have about 100 tons of biomass to process and expect to make somewhere between 50 and 75 cubic yards of biochar. We plan to spend at least three days at the site, doing the work. Anyone who helps will be compensated with biochar to take home.

Many of us will camp on the site. If you can join us, you will need to provide all your own personal equipment, food and water. The nearest hotel is about 50 minutes away in Canyonville. There is a FS campground nearby, but there are no showers there. See Three Horn Campground: 

The site is about 12 minutes from Hwy 227, which is the road that follows the South Umpqua River from Canyonville to Trail, OR in the Rogue Valley. The gravel road to the site is in good condition. There is no cell phone service at the site or on most of Hwy 227.

If you are interested in helping out, we would really appreciate it if you could register so we have your contact info:

Feel free to call Kelpie Wilson with your questions. You can reach her at 541-218-9890. Or email:

NOTE: You will be required to sign a form releasing us from liability before we accept you as a volunteer.


There are two ways to stay informed about the schedule as our plans finalize:

1. Visit our website at
2. Sign up for the UBET mailing list here:!forum/ubetbiochar


Here is some more information about the project: 

Logistics – materials and supplies needed

The US Forest Service will provide:
  • Drip torches for lighting piles
  • Water truck and hoses for quenching piles and kilns
UBET volunteers will provide:
  • Kilns
  • Propane torches for lighting
  • Supplies and tools
  • Tractors for loading char into dumptrucks and bags
  • Bags
Volunteers must bring their own:
  • Heavy leather work gloves
  • Good sturdy boots
  • Hardhat with face shield if you have it
  • Fire resistant clothing such as cotton or wool
  • Food, drinking water, personal needs
  • Camping gear if staying overnite
Items we need more of. Bring if you have them:
  • Hard hats
  • Shovels, rakes, McClouds and other fire tools
  • 2-way radios
  • Sheets of metal roofing to place around piles for holding in heat
  • Bags for holding char (especially large 1-2 cubic yard tote bags)
  • Dump trucks for transporting char

Maps and Directions 

Drew Veg Biochar Site GPS Coordinates: 42.866271, -122.863688

 Project Background

Can we turn our forestry burn piles into biochar?
Can we add carbon to soils, where it belongs as we remove it from the atmosphere?
Can we make this restoration activity pay for itself?

These are the questions the Umpqua Biochar Education Team will answer with the Drew Veg Biochar Project. We hope that you will help us find the answers by volunteering to help.

Drew Veg Biochar is the name of a fuel reduction project on the Umpqua National Forest, near the town of Drew, Oregon. The US Forest Service conducts many such projects on National Forests every year for the purpose of reducing fire hazard by removing dense stands of younger trees, mostly in plantations and areas that were previously logged.

Some of the wood may be big enough to sell to sawmills, but much of it must be piled and burned onsite. This burning produces large amounts of smoke, and the numerous piles burn holes in the forest duff, sterilizing the soil.

We have a better idea and we want to prove it.

Please Come and Join our Drew Fest on October 16, 2017!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Covering the piles at Drew Veg Biochar

We caught these piles just before the rain on Sunday! We are all set for the big October Char Fest. Hope you can come and join us. Right now we are on track for starting the biochar burns on Monday, October 16. We will be on the site at least three days.

Watch this space for more info or subscribe to the UBET mailing list:!forum/ubetbiochar

 If you are pretty sure you want to come and help, we would appreciate it if you could register so we know have your contact info: 

Here's a video of our pile of piles:

Friday, July 14, 2017

JulyAdvert (1)

Please help us get the word out about the upcoming Utah State University Learn at Lunch Webinar:

Date: July 25, 2017, 12 pm (MDT)
Speaker: Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates

Biochar is made by applying heat to biomass in the absence of oxygen. Flame carbonization uses the flame itself to exclude oxygen. Flame carbonization methods can produce high quality biochar from low value biomass waste found in fields and forests without investing in expensive equipment. Kelpie Wilson will explain the theory and design principles for using flame carbonizing techniques in various applications such as forestry, farming and urban tree care.

Kelpie Wilson is a mechanical engineer and analyst with 30 years of experience in renewable energy, sustainable forestry and resource conservation. Since 2008, she has focused on biochar as a tool to move excess carbon from the atmosphere to soil, where it can improve soil health and sequester carbon. She consults with farmers, private industry, and government agencies through her company Wilson Biochar Associates. She serves on the board of the US Biochar Initiative, works with several local groups in Oregon promoting sustainable forestry and agriculture, and presents many classes and workshops on small scale biochar production and use every year.


SAF or ISA continuing education credits are available to those that watch this webinar live.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

NRCS Site Visit

Todd Peplin of NRCS came down from Portland to see some our Conservation Innovation Grant work. We had a great time visiting with project participants and learning about the other important conservation practices they are doing in addition to biochar. Here are some pictures:

Todd and Troy talk cattle

Troy made a biochar kiln out of an old round bale feeder and some roofing tin

The big pile of high carbon boiler ash that Troy uses. Troy told us that in the winter the cows like to hang out on top of the pile because it is dry and warm

Barbara Fontaine shows us the biochar field trial in her pasture

Barb and Don do a lot of forestry on their 90 acre property. Here is a recent thinning operation.

Barb and Don put some small logs and brush in the stream to slow winter flows and improve habitat for fish.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Farm Kilns Complete

Umpqua Community College Welding Department has been fantastic! They have made every kind of kiln we have asked them to, and done a beautiful job. Here are the latest kilns. These are heavy duty versions of the light-weight forestry kilns. They have fork pockets so they can be moved around with a tractor. They will be most useful on a farm or other large property where brush piles are dispersed, but reachable by a tractor. A farmer can bring the kiln to the brush pile, char it, and then pick up the whole kiln full of char and take it to where it will be used.

New heavy duty kilns. All four kilns have fork pockets, and one kiln also has a tilt-dump mechanism and a "milk carton" spout for pouring

Bottom of a kiln showing drain and fork pockets

Hinge mechanism on the dump kiln