Biochar project to transform timber plantation waste on Kangaroo Island

NOBLE PROPERTY: Industry lead directors and farmers assess forest damage and discuss opportunities. Pictured are property owners and brothers Andy and Leister Noble, with T-Ports chief executive Kieran Carvill, Qube's Ricky Murphy, New World Climate & Agriculture director Melissa Rebbeck and New World Pavement Solutions director Andre Van Zyl. Photo supplied
NOBLE PROPERTY: Industry lead directors and farmers assess forest damage and discuss opportunities. Pictured are property owners and brothers Andy and Leister Noble, with T-Ports chief executive Kieran Carvill, Qube's Ricky Murphy, New World Climate & Agriculture director Melissa Rebbeck and New World Pavement Solutions director Andre Van Zyl. Photo supplied

A new biochar project backed by federal funding plans to transform the wood waste associated with clearing Kangaroo Island timber plantations into useful products.

The project is being run by New World Climate & Agriculture and managed by Melissa Rebbeck, based in Goolwa, who is also a director of the company.

The other company directors are Kay Van Zyl, Ryan Grieves and Ryan Groves.

The biochar project is supported by New World Pavement Solutions with Andre Van Zyl at the helm.

Ms Rebbeck said the KI biochar project would use considerable outside investment to work together with existing industry to supply and install infrastructure that will convert partially burnt timber and timber processing off cuts on Kangaroo Island to biochar, wood vinegar and other by-products.

Agricultural grade biochar and products will be certified for agricultural feed use and for use in the soil, following standards set by the Australian and New Zealand Biochar Industry Group (ANZBIG).

Biochar will also be used to make a cold mix pavement solution developed by New World Pavement Solutions (NPS) for road and pavement construction and soil stabilisation.

KI ESTATE: Biochar and forestry directors visited Kangaroo Island recently to inspect damaged forestry lands. Photo supplied

KI ESTATE: Biochar and forestry directors visited Kangaroo Island recently to inspect damaged forestry lands. Photo supplied

During this project's lifetime and by March 2024, a minimum of 25,000 tonnes of off cuts of chipped timber would be processed with a legacy to continue to convert 1-2 million tonnes of timber waste products over a period of three to 10 years, she said.

The company plans to bring over several, mobile processing plants, called "pyrolysis units", over to KI to process the off-cuts and burned timber.

"The project partners will implement movable and saleable equipment effectively including an initial smaller scale demonstration pyrolysis plant, and three larger pyrolysis systems during the lifetime of the project grant," she said.

"In addition, plant and equipment to process, package and handle the biochar will be provided."

It was announced back in March that New World Climate & Agriculture had secured $2.7 million in Black Summer funding from the federal government to develop biochar on KI and the mainland.

Ms Rebbeck said the New World project would freely supply biochar produced, approximately 1000 tonnes, to a minimum of 100 landholders within SA fire affected LGAs, with the KI and Adelaide Hills prioritised.

A further 1 per cent of all biochar produced will be donated for research, development and extension purposes.

"Farmers may choose to use the biochar as a feed supplement for animal productivity enhancement, or in the soil to improve soil health and pasture productivity, land remediation, or as a fire retardant," she said.

"This will support land managers to become more climate, drought and bushfire resilient while enhancing agricultural and economic output."

"Data will be collected by an agricultural biochar project officer to monitor and evaluate the benefits of biochar and its by-products to improve agriculture, restore land, improve production and become more climate resilient.

"In addition, land containing the current partially burnt timber can be rehabilitated using the biochar returning it to productive agricultural use."

New World will also support two PhD students to conduct biochar and agricultural research projects.

Communication and extension of the project would include field tours, workshops, social media and mass media.

"Environmentally friendly cold bio mix products for roads and pavements will either be manufactured on KI or on the mainland using biochar with subsidized demonstration roads planned to gain community engagement," Mr Rebbeck said.

"There will be an opportunity for KI Council to consider using the Cold Bio Mix products on KI for road stabilisation and for ongoing road and pavement maintenance and construction with excess exported elsewhere in Australia and internationally for agriculture, roads and for additional purposes such as pavements and construction.

"Biochar will be classified, packaged and sold for use in agriculture, roads and pavements, steel and other construction purposes.

"The project will also mitigate climate change, and carbon drawdown credits will be available on the voluntary market as well as credits to farmers for using the biochar and improving soil carbon."