By Dr. David Morell, Director of the Sonoma Biochar Initiative at the Sonoma Ecology Center
April 7, 2016, 7-9 pm
Drake’s Landing Community Room, Greenbrae, CA

BioChar-DavidMorellDr. David Morell in front of the Sonoma Ecology Center’s biochar production unit.Biochar is a specialized form of charcoal made from waste wood burned at high temperatures in low oxygen environments. Combined with compost and mixed into the topsoil in small quantities, biochar has been demonstrated to retain and enhance soil health, improve soil moisture, increase crop yields, and sequester carbon safely for decades or longer.

Under Dr. Morell’s leadership, the Sonoma Ecology Center’s (SEC) Sonoma Biochar Initiative has learned a great deal about the use of biochar to reduce water use and improve soil health. They have sponsored numerous education and outreach events, including a national biochar conference in 2012 at Sonoma State University. A grant received in 2014 allowed SEC to purchase and operate its own – and California’s first – farm-scale biochar production unit. Dr. Morell will describe the process and share preliminary results from three field trials conducted last year. The Sonoma Biochar Initiative and the Marin chapter of CNPS are exploring a partnership to remediate the exhausted and abused soils at the site of a new native plant garden we are designing. This would be the first time tests could be run on soils with biochar amendment for a site that was not planted with agricultural crops but rather, one that represented growing conditions similar to our home gardens. We are excited about the partnership.

Dr. Morell brings to biochar a wide range of experience in varied aspects of environmental management, leadership and research. He taught at Princeton University, helping establish its Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, and held senior positions with the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. He was a senior director of California’s hazardous waste management program and Toxics Coordinator for Santa Clara County. Author of 5 books and over 50 published articles, he has worked extensively on international projects for the World Bank and World Wildlife Fund in Mexico, Russia, and Thailand.

Directions: Drakes’s Landing is at the junction of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and 101 in Greenbrae. From Sir Francis Drake traveling east, turn into the Drakes’s Landing office park just before the 101 on-ramp. Turn left, then look for Jason’s Restaurant toward the back of the complex. For those exiting from 101 onto Sir Francis Drake, go to the stoplight at Barry Way/Eliseo Drive (by the Shell station) and make a U-turn in order to access the office park. Enter under the blue awning that says Jason’s and go left into the community room.