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My Biochar Journey

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Hello All my name is Richard Copley.

My Biochar Journey is all about my interaction with the growing interest of the carbon sequestering of tree matter, used in a sustainable management program as a soil amender.


Meeting up with members of the Biochar foundation, looking at new kiln technology and discussing the uses of char!


This is Biochar that has been ground up to be added as an additive to our cattles diet. You may be wondering why we do this?!

Research is showing us the benefits that Biochar can have in the cattles diet, both for the animal, the environment and the crop in which the manure is spread.

First of all the Alkalinity balances out the high acidic   Feeds bringing the pH back to the desired Neutral levels in which the Microbes of the Rumen can work more efficiently.

Also the large surface area of Biochar acts as a filter, storage of nutrients and a home for microbes to be based from.

All these lead to an improvement in health, production of the cattle (presently looking into our own Quantitative results) and reductions in Methane production (RA Leng 2012).

Once the Biochar has passed through the cattles gut then it really comes into its own in the manure or composted manure, helping enhance the holding capabilities of the compost, keeping your nitrogen and phosphorus very accessible to the desired crop, vegetable, plant (Stephen Joseph 2015).

Not only does it make such vital elements accessible, it then sequesters the carbon matter in the ground for a long period, some carbon sequestered in similar ways has lasted up to 1000 years.

I will carry on blogging about our and the industries future developments…if you don’t already then follow us @BiocharMy Twiiter for more upto date logs on the matter and work we are involved in related to our Charing activities!


We have just improved our Kon-Tiki range with two new custom made Kilns done by the talented fairley forge. We do rental of the kilns, manned and un-manned, for prices email us on and we can help with any queries. The kilns can help add value to any woodland residues or tree surgery works…which we can include in a price. Any brash that would not have any value, can be used as a soil amender in the form of Biochar and sequester the decomposable wood matter in the form of carbon locked up in the soil. A great ecologically friendly way of dealing with tree or plant waist a like.



Presently Preparing the layout of organic fertilisers being used alongside our Biochar. Biochar has shown to work best if the char has been amended with NPK (Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).


Activating your char with an organic fertiliser, not only gives the plant roots organic structure, but allows access to nutrients vital for growth. Due to Biochars absorption capabilities if put in the ground without a nutritional aid; if the soil is already lacking in nutrients, any nutrients there could be absorbed by the char, making it more difficult for the plant at first to access. This is why adding a fertiliser to the char can only help benefit its growth.

The fertiliser doesn’t have to be organic and can be used with a synthetic product. However in true permaculture ways, using waist organic products apart of the plants life cycle is truly apart of an all inclusive system.

Look forward to more posts 😄


I have just enrolled in a 10 week intense course on “Biochar Training for Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development” to further develop my knowledge and understanding of our wonderful carbon friend. The course is run by the American International Biochar Initiative. Which I have been a member for the last year. The IBI are completely up to date with new technology, best practises and research involved in the Biochar industry. This course will then help keep me up to speed with recent work, to give you the customer the best opportunities in use and cultivation of your char.


Little experiment of my own looking at the benefits of adding Biochar to soil.


Plant Pot A: Biochar and Urine

Plant Pot B: Biochar

Plant Pot C: Soil

Soil type: Clay Loam

Seed type: Spring Onion

The Biochar we make is made up of different feedstocks at varied temperatures and sizes. We do this to get a variety of carbon, nutrition and porous content.

In this test we’re looking at an organic fertiliser used alongside Biochar, compared to just Biochar and no Biochar at all. As said earlier in my blog.

Quenching the char with a fertiliser, doesn’t just offer the structure needed for the roots offered by the Biochar. It allows the roots access to the nutrients needed for growth, before they get chance to leach away from the plant.

Some studies have also found that adding Biochar directly to the plant, can actually cause a deficit in nutrition if there is little nutrition about. Due to its porous, absorbing capability any nutrition would get absorbed before the plant has any chance to use it, giving it less strength to carry onto the Nutrition absorbed by the Biochar. Quenching the Biochar with Nitrogen and phosphorus then gives the roots in depleted soils a final goal of supplement, without taking the little amounts that are there, just to keep going.

We have gone for an organic fertiliser as the more natural we can make our processes the better, especially if it doesn’t interrupt production 😄

I look forward to future results


They’re some really interesting papers being released on biochar and one of the leading scientists doing this isProfessor Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University. He has estimated that if Biochar was spread over just 10 per cent of global cropland, the effect would be to sequester 29 billion tonnes of CO² equivalent – or the same amount of greenhouse gases we emit, worldwide, every year.

On that note, Garderners and Farmers a like get using Biochar the carbon negative substance that doesn’t just benefit you environment but also enhances your soils #Biochar


Unfortunately I have not been able to update much of my blogs at the moment as my time in the evenings is mostly being taken up with the part time course I’m on at the moment: Biochar Training for Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development. I had mentioned this earlier on in my Blog. I’m presently three modules in having just finished physiochemistry of Biochar and how important this is to the chars final outcome as a filter, water/nutrient retainer and as a carbon sink! More to come 😄


Unfortunately I have not been able to update my blog for the last month as my website has been down 😞 Though all is well now and my blogging can proceed 😀

Regarding my Biochar Journey, it has started on some new and interesting paths!

First of all I’m working with a Local woodland owner, looking at the benefits of adding Biochar to infected saplings (especially those carrying Chalara Fraxinea) To see wether Biochar can help in combat the pathogens and enhance the saplings root structure, to help in the fight against the fungal infection.

This is a very exciting opportunity for me to apply my knowledge that I have been learning on my IBI course of which I am half way through 😄 And still going strong. There is so much to learn about Biochars and their effects; Getting the opportunity to see its effects out in the field, while learning about my choice of inputs, is really giving me a thirst to learn more and help understand Biochar for other people to use.

look forward to showing future pics 👍

Pics of a customers newly fledgling pumpkins, grown in horse manure compost. They have begun with a flying start!


using Biochar in combination with compost is a great way to get the most from your Biochar.

Depending on the temperature produced at and the original feedstock, Biochar has fair amounts of phosphorous and potassium. However unless it is a high Nitrogen feedstock before Charing e.g. Chicken manure, then it won’t have high nitrogen contents after… unlike compost.

Also the plant roots won’t immediately find the phosphorous and pottasium inside the char, which the composts nutrients are more readily available for the plant to utilise at first.


This is an image of some roots that have utilised the composts organic matter and have now attached themselves to the clumps of char, that have been found by the roots after a long period in the ground.

A bit of food for thort… it has been found that overtime the cation exchange improves with the ageing of char!




Tree Life

By Offers, Photography





Crown reduction done on a Silver Birch In Early Autumn to reduce bleeding.


Hedge temoval with Tidy up…really has let the light in!! 😄


Wind the other day has had its toll on compromised trees! This Ash tree had a fungal bracket at the bottom of its stem, fortunately this was on the side of a wood!


If you are worried about wind prone Trees, remember it costs nothing for a us to come and view!

Ash crown reduction!!


The residences of this house were very glad to see the removal of this diseased Lime tree!





False acacia was overhanging the road and house, residence wanted us to reduce the sides in to match back in with the rest of the shape.

The tree was under a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in which we had to contact the local council for any remedial works on the tree.

image image

Any work wanted on a tree that is within a Conservation area or has a TPO on it, must be applied within the council. A service in which we offer.



Crown reduction to A False Acacia…1 to 2 metres was taken off its crown to bring in its shape. A lot more light has been let through the canopy into the customers garden.


We have been cutting back, 3 to 5 year old willow coppice, to use the timber for Biochar.


When you coppice the shoots, it allows them to shoot out new growth all around the stump. Certain species such as willow best suit Coppicing, so does Hazel, Ash, Sweet Chesnut, Lime.

We coppice to keep the tree in a harvesting cycle, allowing for regrowth over a 3 to 15 year period, depending on desired outcomes of the Timber. This batch will go as Biochar, due to its small lengths allows for easy processing. Willow is a good Biochar as it is highly porous, allowing for all that moisture retention.



Last of the replanting, until Next winter…..Though lets enjoy the BBQ season before thinking of next planting season 😄

Though regarding planting advice if you are looking at replanting after felling or just looking to add more trees to a certain area. I recommend the RHS Gardening website, they give great advice on planting conditions to give the best chance for your saplings.

Most of all, moisture and a good soil structure come hand in hand.


Felling dead Ash trees



The stumps will be left to make into seats 😄


The last bit of woodland for the season, doing some contract felling. Within this woodland we were image

thinning the majority of the wood to let more light into ground level shrubs and juvenile trees. Allowing for less competition for light, nutrients and water.

As shown in the picture above, we also did some section felling to create an open space in the wood.



We have been ringing up timber ready to be split for Firewood 🔥


Found this beauty today! It is an image of the Giant Sequoia named ‘The president. It’s situated in Nevada’s Sequoia National park, having existed there for 3200 years 😮, measuring  a height of 247 feet! To get an idea of how tall the tree is, the picture was made up of of 126 photos 😄

A team of scientists measure a giant sequoia, called the President.

Massive respect, would love to have a climb in it!

Have been walking around the 3 year old saplings checking for growth and health changes. Great planting conditions and area of trees situation are Valid to survival. Looks like a 95% survival rate 😄


“in with the New…. Up with the old”


Unfortunately I have not been able to update much of my blogs at the moment as my time in the evenings is mostly being taken up with the part time course I’m on at the moment: Biochar Training for Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development. This is to further my knowledge in best ways to utilise the waist from your tree jobs, to create a sustainable and carbon negative use for your tree waist. More update will be coming again soon, image below of a Lombardy poplar reduction we did the other day 😄



Unfortunately I have not been able to update my blog for the last month as my website has been down 😞 Though all is well now and my blogging can proceed 😀

Here are few pics of recent works!


The Leylandii was shaded by two other Leylandii, you can see were they had grown by the brown areas on the tree. This is were the branches have died, without access to sun or if the greenery is taken off, Leylandii will never come back!



Finished fell 😄 This work needed permission from the council as it was situated in a conservation area. If your in doubt of any tree work being in a conservation area or having a TPO (Tree Preservation Order). We can contact the council to find out and if there is a need for a planning application, we can deal with the paperwork.

Before and after hedge trim (though was not completely before, forgot to take 😂 Imagine the rest is like the top, but not as bushy)



Another section of the hedge trim below (just an after photo)



loaded up an early morning delivery ready for a farm honesty box. We do wholesale netted logs and sell retail from the Farm 😄



Truly British BBQ

By Blog

batch of BBQ Charcoal being made for the summer…with the warm weather at the moment, might even get the BBQ out myself for Christmas 😄

This batch includes a mixture of Hardwoods that create a long lasting, high temperature, smokeless and char tasting burn…umm

Black thorn… Dense hardwood that creates a long lasting and intense heat

Oak…Another long burn with real char flavours

and Sycamore to bring a reliable burn.


A variety of large and small pieces can help with desired cooking outcomes. If needs be, don’t be afraid to contact us for specific loading of sizes and wood varieties for restaurant grilling perfection.

This can be done at an extra cost, compared to our standard home Charcoal at £6.50 a bag.

With every burn we put true care and attention into our retorts to get the best Char.


Another Burn ready to be processed, the ash in this was sourced from our 10 Acre woodland, the storms we had leading up to Christmas relieved this ash tree of a few limbs.


Stocking up of Firewood and BBQ charcoal readied pieces for next years use! lovely day to split and stack wood.

These crates really help with drying the wood, creating a below 15% moisture Firewood.

As the days get longer, we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel….Spring then SUMMER…

I know it’s a bit early for the season, however I can’t wait to start BBQing, so here are some great tips for a great BBQ

  1. Marinate your meat in acidic marinades e.g. Vinegar, citrus, beer. Not only does it make your meats taste great, it also protect against heterocyclic amines (HCAs), carcinogens that are most often caused by cooking poultry, red meat or fish over an open flame.
  2. Make sure you let your grill get up to temperature before adding your meat, Fortunately with our High quality BBQ charcoal it won’t take long until you get started 😄
  3. Once you put food on the grill, do your best not to touch it. Meats — especially burgers, steaks and chops — are meant to be flipped just once. After placing something on the grill, let it sit for a few minutes to get a good sear. Once it’s been cooking for a bit, use your tongs to test and see it if pulls away from the grates. Assuming you oiled it, the meat will either stick or “release” when it’s cooked long enough. If there’s any resistance, it needs to be left alone a few moments longer.
  4. Cook with a smile 😄😄😄


The sun is shining and at Manor Farm tree services we are readying the charcoal bags for this summers BBQing…hopefully 😄

Will have them situated at our honesty box Inbetween Allington and Sedgebrook and also at Croxton Kerrial, just as you leave the village on the right towards Saltby. Our bags are also situated at Belvoir Saw mill, Good Grub company and Manthorpe Firewood.



Both honesty boxes are up and ready for custom 😄 The Locations are: Manor Farm Sedgebrook Allington rd NG32 2EJ…Inbetween Allington and Sedgebrook.


The other Location is just outside of Croxton Kerrial on the right, going towards Saltby.


A little BBQ fact for the day: The most popular foods for cooking on the grill are: burgers (85 percent), steak (80 percent), hot dogs (79 percent) and chicken (73 percent).


For the perfect burgers, this web link from Buzzfeed is a must to see! Great tips


Was very excited this weekend, trying the new BBQ for the first time this season 😄😄


Shame it was a bit cold, but out of the wind in the Sun was ideal. Hopefully we can get some more good weather for a longer period…then I might not even need to use the oven 😄

The home made Shorthorn burgers went down an absolute storm. For anyone that is not familiar with the name Shorthorn….They are a native cattle breed to Britain.


We manage a heard of Beef Shorthorns which are mainly fed on a Grass based diet and grain sourced from our surrounding fields. Knowing what goes into your beef cattle can always be tasted in the quality of the Meat 😄


Unfortunately I have not been able to update much of my blogs at the moment as my time in the evenings is mostly being taken up with the part time course I’m on at the moment: Biochar Training for Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development. Furthering my knowledge of Char is not only benefiting my use with it as a soil amender, but helping me further understand its properties as an energy source. One of the most interesting bits of information I am finding is the technology that is being developed to produce heat, electricity, syngas, oils and Biochar. Utilising everyday waist products to create a variety of outputs.

on a BBQ note, hope all my customers who have purchased a bag are enjoying its high quality burn 😄



Unfortunately I have not been able to update my blog for the last month as my website has been down 😞 Though all is well now and my blogging can proceed 😀

Man image sent from a happy customer using our BBQ Charcoal 👍


Remember when using the charcoal, use small amounts due to the incredible heat it creates 🔥 it did use to be used in smelting!


So much for summer!


Though once the summer arrives a little BBQ sauce recipe that will get the taste buds a tingling!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomato
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
85g brown sugar
3 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato purée

Heat oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat 4-5 mins, until softened. Add remaining ingredients, season and mix. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 mins, until thickened. For a smooth sauce, simply whizz the mixture in a food processor or with a hand blender for a few seconds.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, July 2006
BBC GoodFood Magazine


The sauce does not take long to create and really changes an average BBQ into a meal to never forget.