Spring 2022 Biochar Fertilizer Incentive Program
$1,000 awards are available to the first ten applicants who meet these criteria:
- Are members in good standing of the WWCC (membership form and completed 2021 Member Conservation Practice Survey on file)
- Agree to commit a parcel (1-2 acres) of a crop field to the program for 3 years, beginning in Spring 2022
- Agree to have this portion of the field fertilized separately with a biochar/compost mixture provided by the University of Wisconsin- River Falls (UWRF)
- Agree to have a UWRF researcher take soil samples and crop samples from the field throughout the growing season
- Complete this enrollment form with the acreage and location
- Share subsequent outcomes that can be shared with other members and sponsors
Deadline to apply is January 15, 2022
The UWRF is studying the impact of mixing in biochar with manure/compost. Initial findings support the idea that use of biochar in this way can: 1) assist farmers in controlling costs by reducing reliance on external inputs (e.g. artificial fertilizers); and 2) improve the soil quality and environmental sustainability by minimizing nutrient loss and runoff and improving soil resiliency. So far, the scale of the experiment has been small, but they are ready to expand the acreage under observation.
How will the program work?
We are inviting WWCC Members to assist the research by volunteering a small 1–2-acre section of a crop field in which the farmer would plant normally but allow UWRF to apply the biochar/fertilizer mixture in place of other fertilizers, and subsequently test the soil and crop results compared to approaches being used in the rest of the field. UWRF researchers will work with participating WWCC members to select an appropriate application area, agree on protocols and timeline and establish a direct line of communication.
What will participating members receive
Thanks to a special grant from the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, participating members will receive a stipend of up to $1,000/parcel ($300/year for each of the 3 years of the study) and would, in addition, be able to keep all the production that is generated in the test area, aside from what is needed for laboratory samples. Beyond the financial incentive, however, UWRF is confident members will experience at least some of these in-field benefits:
- Greater retention of soil nutrients
- Greater retention of moisture
- Removal of heavy metal pollutants
- Management of soil acidity
- Decrease soil’s bulk density