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Biochar for Arborists: Technology, Applications and Economics

October 6, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Instructor: Kelpie Wilson CEUs: 6.0 ALMT / 1.0 B-S, 4.5 B-P, 0.5 B-M

Please visit the Annual Training Conference Website to enroll: https://pnwisa.org/classes-events/annual-training-conference/ 

Biochar is a cutting-edge technique for tree care that has ancient roots. This biochar workshop will prepare professional arborists to understand how to utilize biochar in soil for healthier trees. Arborists will also learn how to make biochar from tree waste as a beneficial practice that results in carbon sequestration for climate mitigation.

We will begin with basic biochar science (how biochar works in soil) and how to use biochar in a variety of applications. We will look at real world examples where biochar has been used to support urban trees in harsh conditions and rescue legacy trees from soil compaction and disease. Students will learn how to evaluate biochar, determine its pH, and prepare it for use in soil and compost. We will look at a number of different technologies for making biochar at different scales, including techniques that arborists can use for making biochar on site. We will discuss approaches to economics and job costing and learn how to estimate the carbon sequestration value of biochar made from tree waste. In the afternoon, we will move outside and make biochar from woody debris in a small, hand-loaded kiln designed for forestry operations, that can be used within urban areas under some conditions. For pictures see: https://photos.app.goo.gl/7avX9bQYtOup9URj1. There will be ample time for questions and discussion during the biochar production session.

Learn about the following:

  • Understand how biochar works in soil, how to evaluate different kinds of biochar, and how to apply it to trees at all stages of growth
  • Know how to make biochar from tree waste using simple kilns and modified burning techniques
  • Be able to cost tree care jobs that utilize biochar and calculate carbon sequestration benefits of biochar


Eugene Springfield Fire Admin Office (Classroom 1), 1705 W 2nd Ave, Eugene, OR 97402

Directions: Use southeast entrance into the building. Parking is available right outside building entrance.


9:00 – 9:30, Basic Biochar Science

  • How heat forms biochar
  • Biochar primary properties – stability, surface area, electrochemical potential
  • Biochar secondary properties – water retention, nutrient retention, microbial habitat
  • Biochar reactions in soil and compost

9:30 – 9:45, Biochar Applications – Overview

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Industrial uses
  • Farming
  • Pollution cleanup
  • Trees and forests

15 Minute Break

10:00 – 10:15, Biochar Applications in Tree Care

  • Seedlings and tree planting
  • Reviving legacy trees
  • Street trees
  • City of Stockholm’s biochar urban forest

10:15 – 10:45, How to Evaluate Biochar

  • Review of biochar properties
  • Biochar lab test results
  • Testing biochar for pH – hands on activity

15 Minute Break

11:00 – 11:30 How to Make Biochar

  • Overview of pyrolysis technology
  • How to use the Flame Carbonization method

11:30 – 12:00 Biochar Job Costing

  • Job logistics and equipment needs
  • Labor time and outputs
  • Estimating carbon sequestration value of biochar
  • Sample worksheet
  • Small group exercise with worksheet

12:00 – 12: 30 Lunch

12:30 – 4:00 OUTDOOR Demonstration of biochar production using Flame Carbonization Method and Flame Cap Kiln

  • 12:30 – 12:45 Preparation and safety check
  • 12:45 – 1:15 Ignition and initial burndown
  • 1:15 – 3:30 Feeding the kiln, building up the coals. This is a slower paced activity and allows time for questions and discussion.
  • 3:30 – 4 pm Quench with hose, stir, drain water, and shovel biochar into sample bags for participants

What to Bring

  • Sturdy shoes
  • Leather gloves
  • Fire resistant clothing such as cotton or wool, no loose scarves or hair
  • Water bottle (participants need to stay hydrated during the burn)


Kelpie Wilson is an engineer and analyst with 30 years of experience in renewable energy, sustainable forestry and resource conservation. Since 2008, she has focused on biochar. She has consulted with private industry and government agencies through her company Wilson Biochar Associates. Her contracts have included work for the International Biochar Initiative, Cool Planet Energy Systems, Washington Department of Ecology, North Dakota Forest Service, Long Tom Restoration Council, Biomass One, California Almond Board, and many others. She is also a founding board member of the US Biochar Initiative. She works directly with forest managers, the wood products industry, and farmers to develop systems for making biochar from waste biomass. She researches and teaches techniques for using biochar in compost and manure management, and presents many biochar workshops every year. Kelpie Wilson was profiled by Capital Press as a Western Innovator in September 2016.

Allied Professionals are members of allied organizations. See our list of qualifying organizations.


Eugene Springfield Fire Admin Office (Classroom 1)
1705 W 2nd Ave
Eugene, OR 97402 United States
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