Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College completed a successful virtual National Biochar Week. With funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Eastern, along with organizing partners – US Biochar Initiative, National Center for Resource Development, Infinite Solutions, Chesapeake Bay Trust, MASBio, Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Program, and the US Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service – hosted this virtual event December 7-11, highlighting “Biochar in the Real World,” focusing on the uses, types, and market of biochar.
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (IREED) assembled a broad range of global experts to form the Eastern Biochar Group, which now operates as a “grassroots” national effort to promote biochar.
Biochar is a material that is produced when plant matter, manure, or other organic material is heated in a zero- or low-oxygen environment that can take the shape of sticks, pellets, or dust. When biochar is inserted in soil, it can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it underground. Biochar also brings agricultural benefits by boosting soil’s fertility and its ability to withstand drought or flooding and can rid soil of heavy metals and other pollutants.
Anthony (Amo) Oliverio, Biological and Environmental Technology Faculty at Eastern spoke at National Biochar Week about his work with Eastern’s Biochar initiatives, focusing on Urban Soil Regeneration Using Biochar and Compost. The basic purpose of the study is to improve soil health of urban soils by using various biochar blends and compost. Ultimately, the study hopes to find supporting evidence that various biochar blends could be a viable component of soil amendments to manage stormwater nutrients and runoff in West Virginia. Stormwater management is vital to the recovery of the Chesapeake Bay.
Oliverio became interested in biochar after learning about the ability to improve soil quality and possibly help reduce contamination of soils and water due to acid mine drainage and other coal production by-products. Besides personal interest, Oliverio believed this research would provide students of Eastern’s BET program valuable hands-on experience. Oliverio leads Eastern’s Biological and Environmental Technology (BET) program creating trained and knowledgeable people who will ensure responsible economic development while protecting our water, air, and biological systems for our generation and future generations.
Eastern’s Biochar initiatives also include assisting and leading components of the Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Biomass for Value-added Products Consortium (MASBio) project that is being funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Sustainable Agriculture Systems program area and led by WVU’s Dr. Jingxin Wang, Professor within The Division of Forestry and Natural Resources.
“The next decade will focus on climate and environmental challenges/opportunities. Eastern’s culture embraces innovation and we are proud to support the study and application of biochar. The BET program at Eastern gives students the ability to use their degree in multiple arenas,” said Dr. Charles Terrell, President at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
Learn more about the BET program at Eastern, visit https://www.easternwv.edu/academics/biological-and-environmental-technology
To read more about National Biochar Week, visit https://www.easternbiochar.org/
To learn more about Eastern and IREED’s Biochar initiatives, visit https://www.easternwv.edu/ireed/economic-development