The time is now for Tasmania to put in the work to grow its biochar industry to the next level. That's the message heard at a number of recent events hosted by key players in the sector.
The forums, which involved talks and workshops, were held in both Riverside and Burnie last week in an effort to show everyone from landowners to backyard gardeners how to turn waste into income streams.
Biochar is seen as an element of the so-called circular economy, and is created by burning organic matter in an oxygen-limited environment.
The product can have a number of uses, including as a soil addition or displacement strategy for materials that have large carbon footprints or are too toxic or expensive to dispose of otherwise.
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Bioenergy consultant Frank Strie of Terra Preta Developments has been working in the area for 12 years. With the activity underway in other parts of the world, he sees now as a perfect time for Tasmania to get on board.
"[We had] beautiful discussions, beautiful response," he said of the forum events. "People were really asking lots of questions."
"So we are now forming the Biochar Initiative of Tasmania. People can join in - anything from a backyard to a broad-acre farmer."
Mr Strie said technology today could even take things like sewage sludge or river silt and "turn it into something useful, rather than dump it".
Austrian soil expert Gerald Dunst was in Tasmania for the event, where he spoke about his biochar facility - which produces 350 tonnes of the material each year.
Since 2007 Mr Dunst has also been involved in the Humus-Project, enabling 200 farmers to earn money for increasing the carbon in their soils under a newly developed carbon credit system.
"I see a big potential for every part of the world," he said. "The only question for starting this project [in Tasmania] is are the companies thinking like the companies in Europe."
"It's all about wise use of resources, and the potential for biochar is that," said Tamar NRM program co-ordinator Greg Lundstrom. "So that's why we've helped helped facilitate this workshop and worked with biochar industry. We believe that it is offering opportunities for new markets."
"He [Mr Strie] believes the time is right," Mr Lundstrom said of the new initiative. "I've known Frank quite a few years and he has been on this topic for 12 years ... really trying to get some traction with the industry."
The plans also overlap with agricultural projects Tamar NRM is undertaking, including one around carbon neutral farming.
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