Is Mesquite wood good for making BioChar?

Asked September 23, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

I have a lot of Mesquite trees on my ranch in central Texas. They are invasive and drink a lot of water while making little oxygen. I am ripping them out of the ground and want to do something productive other than fire wood with them. I have over 500 trees on the ground ( 6 months to 4 years old). Is it good to make BioChar and plow it into the 1/2 to 3 acre plots on the ranch? In general, the soils are tight and alkaline.I do have some sandy loam. If so, does mixing it with Compost help with that issue? I was going to mix it with compost anyway but is that necessary or just helpful? Does chipping some of it and mixing it with the biochar and compost help? I will make some charcoal but only can use so much. I have made cabinets and furniture from the larger OD parts of the trees. The rest is not being utilized. I can only make so much barbecue wood. I hate to just make big burn piles and burn it. What do you think?

Texas rangelands biochar mesquite

1 Response

Biochar could be produced from a variety of biomass, using different pyrolysis methods and have a huge range of temperatures which vary from 300 to 700 °C. Biochar’s characteristics depend on its biomass, pyrolysis method and production temperature . Normally the production of biochar depends on pyrolysis method (or called the conversion processes) and temperature. The pH and major nutrient mineral content of biochar depend on the type of biomass and temperature. Slower pyrolysis methods had the maximum biochar production . Faster pyrolysis methods could produce fine powders of biochar but sometimes these products had potential negative impacts on plant or soil . In general, the higher the temperature were, the shorter the pyrolysis time were, and there was less percentage of biochar produced, and a slightly higher pH of biochar.
Adding biochar as a soil amendment in the field might increase yield by improving soil properties such as soil nutrition, water retention, and microbial activity . The impacts are depending on different soil type and environment conditions . Biochar had the potential to modify soil pedogenic activity, morphology, and productivity by affect soil minerals accumulation, transformation, and translocation . Also biochar could increase quantity of plant-available nutrients in soil and its nutrition retention capacity .
So yes, you can make biochar from mesquite wood. The rest depends on how you make biochar.