Field trip in Thai Nguyen, Vietnam (August 2016)
We started the trip with a meeting with Lan Anh, the B4SS local project coordinator, and her team at the Thai Nguyen University of Sciences (TNUS) to discuss:
- the agenda of the B4SS project’s mid-term meeting that will take place on 8-10 March 2017 in Thai Nguyen;
- a research training workshop designed for selected students and TNUS staff to improve their writing skills for publishing scientific articles and presenting project proposals;
- the possibility of hosting an international biochar tour in the B4SS project’s village similar to the Climate Farming Workshop organised by the Ithaka Institute in Nepal; and
- the B4SS project activities conducted so far.
We visited the Thai Hai Tay ethnic village to have lunch, do ecotourism of the area where they grow organic food for the restaurant and get singing lessons. Then we went to the site where the so-called hybrid kiln has been established. The kiln is based on Australian design but has been adapted to meet Vietnamese conditions. The hybrid kiln produced good biochar and it was relatively clean. In the B4SS in Peru, we have noted the relative difficulty in loading this kiln with the green waste available in Lima, but in Vietnam we see that the loading of the kiln with rice straw is very easy for the team.
The next day, we took a field trip to the project area to see the two B4K B4SS brick kilns that have been established in the village and visit the two demonstration sites. One kiln is located next to the maize demonstration site, whereas the other kiln is in close proximity to the rice demonstration site.
Luckily, when we arrived in the village, we found that the farmer was planting seeds with and without biochar at the maize demonstration site. Lan Anh and her team will evaluate the potential of using biochar to grow maize and rice while reducing chemical fertiliser use. The biochar used in maize fields is produced from corn stover, whereas the biochar used in rice fields is produced from rice residues. They mix biochar with different rates of superphosphate fertiliser and apply the biochar formulation to observe changes in fertiliser use and crop productivity.
We also ran one of the two B4K B4SS brick kilns that have been established in the village. In the morning, the temperature was about 38oC and it was hard work to produce biochar under these conditions. Therefore, we waited until 4pm to run the kiln although it did not get really much cooler then. The B4K B4SS brick kiln operated for about 1 hour and 30 minutes and produced good biochar with relatively low emissions.
Lan Anh and her team were exhausted — these guys work really hard and no one hesitates to get their hands dirty – this biochar village in Vietnam is a very good place to host the B4SS mid-project meeting and a biochar tour!