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And BIOCHAR could be a KEY TOOL to help make it happen, because Biochar is the key to creating "MEASURABLE OFFSETS" -- i.e. one does not need to "guess" how much Biochar is being produced and sequestered into the soil -- one can actually weigh it on a scale before sequestering that carbon in the soil and can know exactly how much carbon is being sequestered with a very high level of confidence. And sequestering GOOD biochar should be good for the soils -- and could deal with some of the enormous "waste" biomass issues that will come as a result of the massive scaling-up of the biofuels (ethanol) industry. (The bagasse that results from the process of refining biofeedstocks for ethanol can create huge disposal problems and is generally left to rot or is landfilled -- it could be turned into liquid Bio-oils and Biochar through pyrolysis instead. The bio-oils are a fuel, the Biochar can be sequestered in soils and improve crop productivity by helping to reduce agricultural water usage, improve nutrient cycling and hopefully also help to reduce the amount of agrochemicals needed by farmers, thus helping to reduce the costs of growing biofuels.) The "Agave Project" in Mexico is one example of such a win-win-win scenario: The National Confederation of Forestry Producers in Mexico (CONOSIL) plans to produce one billion tonnes of dry biomass (using a non-GMO enhanced agave variety**) on 20 million hectares of land in Mexico. ** Their carefully bred and selected ultra-high-density agave is capable of producing 3X more sugars than sugarcane, 4X more cellulose than the fastest growing eucalyptus and 5X more biomass than the GMO poplar tree designed in the USA for cellulosic biofuels production, and can yield up to 10,000 gallons of ethanol per hectare every year. Agave can also be grown on semiarid marginal land in acidic, saline or steep soils, needs no watering (200mm a year will suffice), no agrochemicals (agave captures N from air), is very easy to cultivate and has a very low cost of production (around one thousand US dollars per hectare per year). Some of the bioproducts that can be produced from Agave also include ethanol, biodiesel, biocoal, biooil, jet-fuel, green gasoline, syngas, hydrogen, methanol, inulin, fructose syrup, bioplastics, insulation foam, glue, pressed boards, geotextiles, composite materials, long fibres for ropes, biopolymers, wax, concrete additives, detergents, nutraceutics, prebiotics, dietetic sugars, phenols -- and of course Biochar, which can be sequestered in soil and create enormous carbon offsets while simultaneously increasing the productivity of the soil. The CONOSIL growers are part of the National Confederation of Forestry Producers of Mexico, which has over six hundred and seventy thousand registered members -- all legal land owners. They already have plans to establish as many large agave plantations as possible ASAP so in 4 to 5 years there will be plenty of agave bagasse for producing Biochar. Their most recent Agave and Biofuels Workshop attracted experts from 5 Countries on 5 continents (including Brazil and Africa -- where there is a possibility for developing agave plantations in the Sahel). Private investors are now needed to make this a reality, because this project now needs a concerted effort from many sides to make it happen -- plus a fair bit of cash to support the people managing the project. The goal was to make an announcement in time for COP16, but with the successful creation of a US$200 billion a year "Climate Fund" to help with "adaptation and mitigation" in developing countries, we hope to be able to make the BIG announcement in Durban, South Africa at the end of next year. So, yes Soil Carbon is definitely "the Next Big Thing" -- and could have worldwide implications -- not the least of which for the climate, but also for Global energy security. And Biochar for soils will be the key that can make it happen. Lloyd Helferty, Engineering Technologist Principal, Biochar Consulting (Canada) www.biochar-consulting.ca