Tag Archive for: Biochar

Request for Proposals: Seeking Contractor to Identify Biochar Innovators and Develop/Implement Earned Media Strategy around Biochar Profiles

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking a contractor to identify innovators in the production or use of biochar to sequester carbon and build healthy, resilient soils. This contract offers the opportunity to work in support of climate change solutions and building productive, sustainable, and resilient farming systems.

Project Goals:

  • Develop a portfolio of successful innovators and businesses involved in the production and/or utilization of biochar and, where appropriate biofuel byproducts, to tell the story of biochar as a multi-pronged solution to land-use challenges, soil degradation, carbon drawdown, and economic development.
  • Develop an earned media strategy to cultivate, pitch, and land local, regional, and national news pieces on the opportunities biochar innovators are harnessing to address climate change,improve farm profitability and create economic opportunity across rural America.
  • Highlight the opportunities, obstacles, strategies, and policies for scaling up the biochar sectoracross a broad geography of the United States.
  • Build support for the bipartisan Biochar Research Network Act and other policies to support development of a biochar and biofuel industry.


  • Cultivate a group of leading biochar innovators in targeted states for the purpose of sharingtheir stories across earned media platforms.
  • Prepare succinct, well-written, and compelling profiles of leading biochar innovators as pitches, guest columns, news releases, or other earned media methods as part of a larger earned media strategy. The stories should describe their biochar strategies, experiences, and results.
  • Develop and implement a detailed earned media strategy to share the stories of biocharinnovators in targeted local, regional, and national news outlets. Targeted states may includeWashington, Arkansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Montana, Maine, Georgia, North Dakota, Maryland,and Oregon.
  • Set up interviews with identified innovators to gain an understanding of their biochar strategiesand experiences, and vet those innovators for possible earned media pieces.

Location: Remote
Budget: Up to $35,000
Period of Performance: March 2023-2025

Application Procedures – Send a cover letter, resume, and three writing samples to Emilie Ritter, Director of Communications and Development, National Center for Appropriate Technology – emilier@ncat.org

The cover letter should address the following questions:

  • What are the key strengths you would bring to this role?
  • Describe your experience in developing an earned media strategy
  • Describe a successful earned media campaign you’ve managed
  • Describe your experience and understanding of agriculture, forestry, energy, and climate solutions as it relates to biochar.

Please note that the Contractor will need to provide documentation of business insurance that provides adequate coverage for the work performed, maintaining it in full force at all times during the performance of the work under this contract.

Deadline: February 13 or open until filled.

About Biochar

Biochar offers a win-win solution for climate, agriculture and forestry. But its potential will only be realized with a national strategy for coordinated biochar research, supportive public policy and private investment to develop a biochar and biofuel industry.

Biochar is critical because soil is critical. Global soils hold three times the carbon as the atmosphere. So, even modest increases in organic soil carbon can make a significant impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide level. Biochar holds unique promise for building soil carbon because it persists in soil for hundreds to thousands of years. Research also suggests that appropriately designed biochar can reduce nitrous oxide emissions from soil and slow breakdown of native soil carbon, thereby sequestering additional carbon in soil.

Biochar also offers real bottom-line benefits to farmers, ranchers and foresters. It can improve soil health, increase crop yields and enhance re-establishment of forests on marginal and degraded soils. It can improve nutrient cycling and availability. And it can build soils that enable farms and ecosystems to endure extreme weather by better capturing heavy downpours and storing more water to sustain crops and forests through hot and dry spells.

However, research results have been inconsistent, reflecting variations in biochar, soil, climate and application practices. There is a critical need for a coordinated large-scale research program that tests the range of biochar types across locations with diverse conditions. Biochar has great potential. But to achieve that potential, we must better understand which types of biochar achieve the desired results in varying soils and circumstances.

To develop that understanding, bipartisan members of Congress joined together to introduce the Biochar Research Network Act. (HR 8596 in the US House and S 4895 in the Senate). The Act charts a course for federal funded research to fill the critical knowledge gaps on biochar. It will be considered for inclusion in federal farm bill being developed in this session of Congress.

There must also be concerted action to develop an industry to produce biochar and its biofuel coproduct. The pyrolysis process pioneered at Iowa State University produces biochar along with cellulosic sugars and biocrude oil that can be processed into low to negative carbon fuels. The fuels can lower emissions for difficult to decarbonize sectors and help pay for production of biochar. The biochar builds soil health and productivity to support the production of biomass for fuel along with food and fiber, without converting rangeland and forests to farmland.
But an industry must be built to realize these benefits, at a pace sufficient to meet the challenge of climate change. The profiles of biochar innovators will help draw the attention of the news media, the public and policy makers to the benefits of biochar. They will build support for development of a biochar and low carbon biofuel industry that contributes to solving climate change and building healthy, productive and resilient soils and farms.

Today, on World Soil Day, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and American Farmland Trust (AFT) released Scaling Sustainable Biochar Research & Commercialization for Agriculture & Conservation: A Summary from a Stakeholder Convening that summarizes how sustainably produced and applied biochar will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to mitigate climate change and build healthy high functioning soils. Additionally, the paper outlines research needs and gaps to scale up implementation and establish a pyrolysis biochar bioenergy industry.

Biochar is a charcoal-like substance made from pyrolyzing organic materials, such as agricultural and forest waste, often co-produced with renewable energy. Pyrolysis, the most common technology employed to produce biochar, converts organic materials under low-oxygen and high-temperature conditions (400 – 600ºC) into highly stable carbon compounds that remain in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar’s highly stabilized carbon-rich composition enables it to boost the benefits of other soil health practices, and to build productive, high functioning, resilient soils. Furthermore, biochar sequesters carbon in the long-term and reduces GHG emissions.

The paper is a summary of a March 2022 virtual convening event on biochar research and commercialization, hosted by FFAR, NCAT and AFT.

“This white paper demonstrates a clear need for coordinated efforts in both the public and private sectors and the creation of innovative partnerships to resolve the research and innovation gaps that have limited the widespread application of biochar to agricultural soils,” said LaKisha Odom, Ph.D., FFAR soil health scientific program director. “I am especially excited about the research roadmap and collaboration opportunities that are possible.”

“Biochar, together with its biofuel coproduct, has great potential to build healthy soils, strengthen rural economies and remove carbon from the atmosphere,” said Steve Thompson, NCAT executive director. “But that potential will be realized only with concerted action to close knowledge gaps, develop markets and implement supportive policy. The convening and this report point the way.”

“A coordinated effort is needed to resolve the research, development and policy gaps that have limited the widespread adoption of sustainable, fit-for-purpose biochar amendments for diverse agricultural soils,” said Rachel Seman-Varner Ph.D., AFT senior soil health and biochar scientist of AFT’s Climate Initiative. “The convening event and this white paper brought together scientific, industry and policy experts to identify gaps that need to be addressed to move this practice forward as a synergistic tool in the soil health and climate-smart toolbox.”

The paper also supports the use of sustainably sourced organic waste products and outlines the potential to include bioenergy crops to simultaneously generate biofuels and biochar for application to farm, ranch, and forest lands. Recordings of the convening event and the paper are also available on the Farmland Information Center page, Convening on Biochar Research and Commercialization. A companion paper that summarizes research, stakeholder action, and policy recommendations for a coordinated strategy to support a pyrolysis biochar bioenergy industry will be released by AFT and NCAT in early 2023.


About the American Farmland Trust (AFT)  

American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.     

CONTACT: Lori Sallet, E: lsallet@farmland.org ● P: (410) 708-5940


About the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR)  

FFAR builds public-private partnerships to multiply the U.S.’s public research investment and accelerate actionable solutions to urgent food and agriculture challenges. FFAR’s Soil Health Challenge Area has interest in biochar due to the importance of carbon drawdown, the imminence of time and the need to address knowledge gaps, as well as the need for implementation and scale in the biochar space. FFAR is interested in developing coordinated funding opportunities to support near-term technology development for biochar.  

CONTACT:  Michelle Olgers, E: molgers@foundationfar.org ● P: (804) 304-4200


About the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)  

The National Center for Appropriate Technology has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has field offices in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Learn more and become a friend of NCAT at NCAT.ORG

CONTACT: Emilie Ritter, Director of Communications and Development, emilier@ncat.org

By Steve Thompson, NCAT Executive Director

Dave Atkins, a forest landowner in Montana’s Blackfoot Valley, peers through the smoke-filled gloom of another hot and dry August, and he sees hope on the horizon. He’s part of a collaborative project with other small landowners, federal land agencies, conservation and watershed groups that thinks that an important solution can be found in a porous black shred of carbon called biochar.
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