International Biochar Initiative Educational Webinar Series:

The Potential for Biochar to Enhance Sustainability in the Dairy Industry

January 28, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET (Eastern Time - United States)

The dairy industry is facing increased pressure to reduce impacts on air and water quality, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasingly urgent. Regulations are increasingly causing farmers to build larger facilities or buy more land to handle excess nutrients. At the same time, the industry has been hit hard by a number of different challenges.

New methods of reducing emissions on dairy farms include the production and use of biochar, a solid material obtained from the thermochemical conversion of biomass in an oxygen-limited environment. Biochar can be used as a product itself or as an ingredient within a blended product, to improve soil properties and/or resource use efficiency, to remediate and/or protect against environmental pollution, and as an avenue for GHG mitigation (IBI 2013). Biochar also offers the possibility of large-scale carbon sequestration which may lead to increased revenues for farmers of all types as carbon marketplaces begin to embrace biochar as a carbon removal product.

This webinar is a review of a paper published last year of the same name by Kathleen Draper & Shannan Sweet and funded by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Shannan will highlight some ways that biochar is being or could be incorporated on dairy farms to improve overall economic and environmental impacts. While additional benefits and uses could accrue to the entire supply chain for milk, cheese any other milk-based products, this paper focuses solely on the dairy farm itself. It reviews different entry points for biochar from its use as a feed additive, to feed storage component, bedding additive, or manure management component. It also discussed converting manure directly into biochar as a manure management strategy that could reduce storage costs and GHG emissions.

Steve McCorkle, AgWaste solutions will discuss their technology which converts dairy manure into biochar and jet fuel. Greg Campbell, V-Grid Energy, will discuss how their technology can be utilized on dairy farms to generate renewable and lower cost electricity use to run fans in hot climates while also producing biochar which can be used as animal feed or bedding substrates.


Free to IBI Members or $40 for non-members

To Access:

IBI Members access recording here (go to the webinars section).

Non-members: Your recording link will be emailed to you after successful payment processing.


Shannan Sweet Speaker

Shannan Sweet is a postdoctoral researcher in the Lehmann Lab at Cornell University. Her research focuses on climate change mitigation and resiliency. Her recent work includes investigating on-farm pyrolysis of dairy manure to not only address climate change but also make farms more resilient to extreme weather events, while simultaneously protecting the social and environmental wellbeing of local areas.

Stephen McCorkle Speaker

Steve McCorkle is founder and CEO of Ag Waste Solutions (AWS) and is the developer of AWS’ unique carbon regeneration solution and business model. Steve has over 35 years of successful international leadership experience, with a large part of that experience earned while managing energy and technology businesses for Schlumberger Limited – the world’s leading service and technology supplier to the oil and gas industry. Steve’s interest in regenerating waste carbon into clean burning transportation fuels developed while exploring for oil and gas in remote deserts in the Middle East. He served as Board Chair of the Animal & Poultry Waste Management Center (APWMC) at North Carolina State University as he developed the AWS technology solution for distributed micro biorefineries on animal farms. Steve decided to implement the AWS solution in Southern California first because the region represents the most stringent regulatory environment in the world.

Mr. McCorkle holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University and an Executive MBA from the University of Houston.

Greg Campbell Speaker

Greg Campbell is the CEO of VGrid Energy Systems, Inc., a renewable energy company in the ag space. He is a successful entrepreneur who has taken two previous companies in the technology space through IPOs and successful acquisition. Greg did his undergraduate degree at Cambridge University in engineering and earned his doctorate in applied plasma physics at UCLA.

Kathleen Draper Moderator

Kathleen is the Board Chair of the International Biochar Initiative. She is also the US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence. The Institute is an open source network focusing on beneficial carbon sequestration strategies which simultaneously provide economic development opportunities both in the developed and developing world. In 2020 she helped launch C-interest, a start-up focused on creating biochar based composite materials. She has written extensively about various topics related to biochar and is a co-author of the book “Terra Preta: How the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger” and “BURN: Using Fire to Cool the Earth”.


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