Planting Day at the Fond du Lac Biochar Demonstration Garden

The CenUSA Bioenergy biochar demonstration gardens are now about to embark on year two of the CenUSA Bioenergy project.  This year, the University of Minnesota is adding the Fond du Lac Biochar Demonstration Garden in Brookston, MN to its list of biochar demonstration garden sites.

CenUSA Biochar Demonstration Garden
CenUSA Bioenergy – Fond du Lac Biochar Demonstration Garden site

To be consistent across demonstration garden sites, we prepared biochar gardens in the same manner between all CenUSA Bioenergy biochar demonstration gardens in Minnesota and Iowa. Prior to planting, Josh (seen below) incorporated the biochar throughout the demonstration garden.

Credit goes to Josh who helped prepared the beds with biochar
Credit goes to Josh who helped prepare the garden by incorporating (rototilling) biochar into the soil
Biochar incorporated into Fondulac demonstration gardens
Biochar incorporated into Fond du Lac demonstration garden

UMN Extension’s Dawn Newman (in the white shirt) and volunteers at the Brookston Community Center helped carry plants and planting supplies from the car to gardens.

Volunteers carry plants and planting supplies from cars to garden
Volunteers carry plants and planting supplies from cars to garden

Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Director of the Master Gardener program, orchestrated the planting using a planting plan that has been used at all the other CenUSA Bioenergy biochar demonstration gardens.

Organizing the planting site
Julie Weisenhorn,Director of the UMN Master Gardener Program organizes resources at the Fond du Lac site

 

Julie explains the CenUSA Bioenergy biochar demonstration garden is  1000 sq ft and is divided into three plots of 300 sq ft each. Each plot has different amounts of biochar that have been added (or not added), as outlined here:

  • a Control (CTRL) plot with no biochar added;
  • a Treatment 1 (TRT1) plot amended with one-half pound of biochar per square foot (150 pounds), and a
  • Treatment 2 plot (TRT2) amended with one pound of biochar per square foot (300 pounds).
CenUSA biochar test plots
The test plot design for CenUSA Bioenergy biochar demonstration gardens

We used soil test recommendations from the UMN soil test report and applied a nitrogen fertilizer and murate of potash to all plots.  This fertilizer will provide the nitrogen and potassium needed to grow plants in the 1000 square foot Fond du Lac Demonstration Garden soils.

Soil test for biochar gardens
Soil test report for biochar gardens

Volunteers gathered to get ready to plant.

Getting ready to plant
Getting gloves and getting ready to plant

Volunteer get ready to dig in the really sandy soil!

Sandy soils at the Fondulac site
Sandy soils at the Fond du Lac site

Planting gets underway in gardens.

Planting gardens
Many hands make light work to plant gardens

We quickly realized our water set-up is not going to cut it all season long.

Watering plants  in newly planted biochar demonstration garden
Watering plants in the newly planted biochar demonstration garden made us realize we need new watering equipment!

Julie writes a list of garden supplies, which includes soaker hoses!

Writing a supplies list for the Fondulac Biochar Demonstration Gardens
Wrapping up the planting day, Julie writes a  new supplies list for the Fond du Lac Biochar Demonstration Gardens

 

That’s it for now.  In the next few weeks, we’ll have updates on other biochar demonstration garden sites and biochar information.  In the meantime, you may like to catch up on all  CenUSA Bioenergy biochar demonstration garden blog posts @ https://publish.extension.org/mastergardener/tag/cenusa-bioenergy/ . Be sure to let us know if you have questions about this research. The blog comments are open for just this purpose.

-Karen Jeannette

 

“The CenUSA Bioenergy project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-68005-30411 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.”