Selasa, 18 Juli 2017

Biochar To Make Land Like White Bread For Optimum Organic Farming

..... And you see the earth dried up at first, then when We send down water upon it, live the earth, and be the land, and grow all kinds of beautiful plants. "- (QS 22: 5)

Soil is a medium for the growth of plants, more specialized crops that are cultivated by humans to meet their needs through agriculture / plantation and forestry. Good soil will produce high quality agricultural products with a large quantity. But getting the ideal soil especially for the farming business is not an easy thing nowadays because of several things. First the destruction of the soil due to the use of chemical fertilizers that turned out to be in the long run damaged the soil, as experienced by most agricultural land today. The second factor is the limitation of land due to its massive use of land for housing, industry and so on. The third factor is irresponsible farming such as mobile agriculture. The fourth factor is human effort to take irresponsible natural resources as commonly happened in mining, illegal logging and so on. Any farming business also begins with recognizing the type of land and its character, it shows how important the land is.

Chemical fertilizers mainly as the biggest and main cause of the damage for current agricultural lands. This is because chemical fertilizers cause physical, chemical and biological damage to the soil. The soil becomes hard, lacks nutrients (barren) and the death of soil microbes. The death of soil microbes is the source of the biggest problem causing the damage to the soil. This is because soil microbes play an important role to continue to maintain soil fertility. A handful of fertile soil contains 2 billion microbes that run each other prey and fight over food in the ground. The activity of running microbes that prey on each other in the soil, causing the ground to vibrate and become hollow. Hollow soil is loosening and improving soil aeration that also helps to fertilize the soil. The presence of water entering the soil will be absorbed by the plants as well as the needs of these microbes. Why chemical fertilizers should be avoided? This is because chemical fertilizers make acid soil that kills the soil microbes, so the consequences are very fatal. The synthesis or decomposition of organic materials also involves these microbial activities.

The ideal soil is fertile, with parable like white bread,soft and hollow. Soft and hollow because of the soil microbial activity that forms the structure and cavity. These conditions make optimal plant growth because the roots can freely absorb nutrients in the soil for growth. The reverse is barren land, with a metaphor like the pathetic bread, which is hard and solid. Hard and solid due to the absence or lack of microbes in the soil. These conditions make plant growth disturbed and will not be optimal. Water also will not be well absorbed in the soil condition. Well, what if the cavities or pores in the soil are reproduced and even made a special house for microbes? Of course microbial activity is getting bigger and growing. "White bread" is even more tender and hollow / porous. Does the cavity or pore serve only as a microbial house? Apparently not. The cavities or pores also improve the soil structure of aeration and are also able to withstand the soil nutrients from loss due to leaching / washing.
Furthermore, the pores are also able to absorb CO2 gas from the atmosphere. CO2 gas is one of the greenhouse gases that causes the earth's temperature increase. The higher concentrations of CO2 gas in the atmosphere further increase the earth's temperature, the occurrence of climate change and global warming. The absorption of CO2 gas to be stored in the soil is a negative carbon scenario. The pores are more specifically subdivided into macropore, mesopore and micropore. CO2 is mainly absorbed in the micropre. Further discussion on the problem of pores and its application on the production process of activated charcoal (activated carbon).
What materials that can add pores to microbial homes, improve soil structure, retain soil nutrients from leaching and even absorb CO2 from the atmosphere? The material is biochar or agricultural charcoal made through the process of pyrolysis or biomass carbonization such as agricultural wastes. Biochar can also increase the pH so that the soil microbial life more optimal. Biochar is widely used with compost in organic farming. The use of charcoal (biochar) as a medium for planting itself is not new, but the use of biochar as part of problem solving in the world of extensive and contemporary agriculture is new in particular to repair the soil damage caused by chemical fertilizers. Why use biochar for such improvements? Is it not enough with compost? Biochar works to accelerate and maintain soil fertility. "Pathetic breads" is harder and longer transformed into "white breads" with only compost. High agricultural productivity becomes an easy thing to achieve with land such as "fresh bread". The "fresh bread" is as the Quran suggests ihtazzat warabbat - earth that vibrates and expands (QS 22: 5) because there is water and microbial activity in it. And such conditions are sought as ideal conditions for agriculture.

In forestry areas it would be more appropriate to use leguminoceae to make the earth vibrate and expand (ihtazzat warabbat), this is because the soil microbial plant in the legume root is able to bind the nitrogen (N) element of the atmosphere so that it will fertilize the soil. Energy production such as wood pellets with legumes plantations / forest such as gliricidae and calliandra are more suitable for forestry. While the wood is processed into wood pellets, while the leaves can be for sheep / goats. Deep rooting and strong also makes the legume forest able to withstand erosion and retain water, which at times can even bring up springs.

Jumat, 14 Juli 2017

Biochar, Urban Farming and Drip Irrigation

Urban Farming in Chicago, US
Efforts for food self-sufficiency must be done in various ways including overcoming the limitations of agricultural land that occur due to use for settlement / housing. In line with this FAO also launched a zero hunger or free hunger for the world population in 2030. The package was formulated in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consisting of 17 targets including the zero hunger. The narrowness of urban land is not an obstacle to participate in the fulfillment of these food needs. Agriculture in cities has also begun to flare up today, both in developed economic countries such as the United States and Europe as well as in a number of major cities in Indonesia. Urban farming attracts a lot of urban residents because in addition to adequate food, as well as relaxation and tourism. Currently approximately 50% of urban residents who work to get food sufficient so it will also be greatly helped by doing urban agricultural activity. High levels of congestion, air pollution, and various other common social factors in urban areas become stressful and make urban farming activities a place to relieve stress or relaxation. Especially in the next few years the population of Indonesia in particular, predicted the percentage of people who live in the city far more than those living in the village.
Efficiency becomes the keyword for agriculture on such limited land, both media efficiency, water efficiency, maintenance efficiency, fertilizer efficiency and so on which is now termed into precision farming. The world needs food additions of up to 70% to 2050 while the land continues to decrease, as does the quality of the water and the air. So precision farming and IoT (Internet of Things) can be a great solution for that. For example the idea of ​​precision agriculture and IoT on palm oil plantations can be read here. Various efforts are used to achieve the best level of precision one of them with the use of internet or IoT. Biochar or charcoal from biomass can be used for efficiency of planting medium, fertilizer and water. The biochar pores will retain water and fertilizer and become the site of the decomposing bacteria so that it is more available to the plant and ultimately increases the yield productivity. The next water efficiency is by drip irrigation. The water requirement on the plant is basically needed continuously although the amount is small. Drip irrigation is able to do so in the roots of the plant. The mechanism is similar to fertilization, ie slow release fertilizer and with biochar the release mechanism can be achieved, so as with the use of drip irrigation in irrigation, effective and high efficiency can be achieved as well. Mulch can also help improve the efficiency of water use by reducing evaporation and cooling the soil surface temperature.
Then how rural people if urban already able to meet the needs of food, especially vegetables? Keep in mind that vegetables that are in urban areas today come from a place far away even hundreds of kilometers away. Of course in addition to expensive transportation costs are also vegetables are not really fresh, because from harvesting, transportation, until the market up to the buyer usually takes more than 2 days. When the vegetables can be produced in urban areas that are very close to the buyer then the expensive costs can be avoided and vegetables are also fresh because it has just been picked. The rural community will be the producer of seeds from the vegetables. Seeds of vegetables in the form of grains will be easy and cheap transportation. Seeds for the seedlings are expensive to provide an attractive income for the producers of these
The vast lands in the countryside can also be planted with various kinds of fruit trees and various farms such as sheep grazing. Fruits will be a source of vitamins, sheep and livestock as a source of protein, and vegetables as a source of fiber and minerals, so that everything is complementary. Besides the vast lands in the countryside even in hilly or mountainous areas can also be used for energy plantations. Biomass fuel, especially wood pellet can be for substitution of various fossil fuels, especially petroleum and coal. Plants such as calliandra and gliricidae are great for the energy plantations, and even be integrated with sheep farms like the 5F project scenario for the world! The current condition of Indonesia that has become a petroleum importer should also encourage the use of energy from biomass especially wood pellets by promoting energy plantations. Energy development using energy plantations or trees are also in accordance with the Qur'an, for more details can be read here. Then man is commanded to prosper the earth (QS 11:61), to be told how to live the dead earth (QS 36:33), to be told how to fertilize it (QS 22: 5), how to maximize its crop yield (QS 16:10 -11), and even modeled on the success of good earth management (QS 34:15).
Do energy plantations need to be added with biochar? The answer is not necessary because the energy plantations uses leguminoceae (QS 36: 33) which can even turn the dead soil with its root ability by binding nitrogen from the atmosphere. Over time the land will become fertile, and can be used for various other farms. Biochar is suitable for increasing the productivity of various agricultural crops, especially outside the leguminoceae crop. More specifically for a variety of urban and palm oil agriculture, high soil fertility is needed.

Senin, 03 Juli 2017

The Role of Biochar In Era of Precision Farming and IoT in Palm Oil Plantations

Palm oil is not native to Indonesia but it is from West Africa and originally brought by Dutch colonialists. Initially only 4 palm oil seedlings were planted in the Bogor Botanical Garden but now they have been planted into plantations with an area of ​​nearly 9 million hectares, while Malaysia 5 million hectares. Currently Indonesia is the world's largest producer of palm oil, beating Malaysia with CPO production of more than 23 million tonnes / year with the number of oil palm mills reaching more than 600. Right now approximately 1,100 palm mills in Southeast Asia, and majority in Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil and its derivative products have become the largest foreign exchange earners of the plantation sector for Indonesia. The palm oil and its derivative products are divided into several groups namely CPO (crude plam oil), refined products of CPO, palm kernel oil (PKO), refined products of PKO, biodiesel and oleo-chemical. Naturally, palm oil business is a concern for many parties because of its role in the economic sector, which includes agriculture, industry and trade. The optimization of palm oil business continues to be done continuously for the sustainibility.
Palm Oil Monument in Bogor Botanical Garden, West Java, Indonesia

Optimalization in the agricultural sector, now it is time for  Indonesia for doing intensification so that palm oil productivity can be improved. When efficiency is increased, productivity will increase as well as the profits of the palm oil business. Precision farming and internet use (IoT = Internet of Things) are timed for use in the palm plantations. With precision farming and IoT, the need or dose of palm oil fertilizers or nutrients will be adjusted as needed, and real time soil fertility conditions and various agricultural variables can also be viewed and monitored carefully with apps or websites. The advantages and disadvantages of fertilizers or nutrients of both macro elements such as NPK and micro elements such as Fe, Mn, B, Mo, Cl, Cu, Zn in certain zones of oil palm plantations can be immediately detected, as well as various disturbances in oil palm plantations such as drought, wild pigs, pests and so on. The sensors installed in the palm oil plantation will then work with telemetry so all the data can be displayed on the screen to be analyzed and searched for the solution.

Isn't the palm oil area tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands hectares area? How to monitor and process the data? The more sensors installed in the palm oil plantations , the conditions will be more accurate reported. If we visit a modern chemical plant with sophisticated control room, see dashboard in cockpit plane or car dashboard and so then operational condition can be monitored easily. The more sophisticated the vehicle or factory then the look in the 'control room' is also more complete and sophisticated. So that's how to monitor the 'operating conditions' of the palm oil plantation with tens or even hundreds of thousands of hectares. Without knowing the condition of the plantation is like a driver driving in the 'dark', gasoline run out do not know, the engine overheating is also not known and so forth. Of course that is a high risk, many palm oil plantation failed or a lack of production due to various things 'dark' is. Thousands of data with many varieties of plantation condition then be collected and with big data can be mapped and analyzed for mapping also for the solution.

Soil fertility is vital to the farm / plantation business more specifically in palm oil plantations, so the effort to continue to maintain soil fertility should receive great attention. Of course there are many ways to continue to keep the soil fertility, including fertilization, the use of charcoal (biochar) and sheep grazing. Charcoal (biochar) is proven to increase soil fertility by keeping soil moisture, a microbial soil, retaining leaching, increasing soil pH, adding soil organic carbon and improving soil structure. Even with regard to climate change and the environment, the soil (biochar) that is introduced to the soil also absorbs carbon from CO2 from the atmosphere (carbon sequestration). Biochar can also survive hundreds or even thousands of years in the soil so that the benefits are very long.

There are several scenarios to produce biochar on palm oil business. Solid waste from palm oil mills such as empty bunches (EFB), fiber and shell can be used for the production of biochar. Simple to most advanced technologies can be utilized for the production of the biochar. On a large scale or industrial biochar production using continuous pyrolysis (carbonization) technology such as JFBC. The continuous pyrolysis or carbonization may be part of the palm oil mill or CPO production as can be read here or stand alone eg using only EFB as the raw material of the pyrolysis. The high cost of fertilization or efforts to maintain soil fertility so that biochar applications have a high level of urgency as described here.
Other efforts to maintain the soil fertility of palm oil plantations with sheep grazing. Why sheep grazing can fertilize the land of palm oil plantations? Yes, because when sheep are grazed among palm oil plantations also dump the dirt in the place, so the grass between the palm oil plantation should is not eradicated but maintained for the farm business. The sheep dung become fertilizer that fertilizes the soil. Why for sheep grazing? Why not grazing cattle or buffalo? This is because sheep farms produce more meat than cows or buffalo. The lamb/sheep is the best meat and is the world healthiest food, which is grass-fed sheep or shepherded on the grass. Grass-fed sheep will produce Omega-6 to Omega 3 ratio (O6 / O3 ratio) ranging from 1 or balanced. The Omega-6 ratio to Omega 3 states that the quality of food is in terms of health, with a range of 1 at its best or a balanced condition whereas if the O6 / O3 ratio is greater then the lower the quality of the food. Meanwhile, if big livestock such as sheep are fed grains such as soybean-based O6 / O3 ratio will be big ie 13 or more. High O6 / O3 ratio will spur the onset of heart disease, cancer and other cardiovascular diseases.The second driving force is the low consumption of meat for Indonesian which according to FAO is only 12.9 kg / year / capita or below the world average reaching 41.9kg / year / capita. The population of Indonesia with the consumption of sheep meat is very minimal or only 1/20 than the population of Australia and New Zealand but it turns the ratio of heart attacks and strokes is much higher or about 3 times the population of Australia and New Zealand. This proves that there is no relation to the consumption of sheep meat with heart disease or stroke - which is the animal of choice in the Qur'an and the shepherding of these Prophets! Sheep needs for export market especially Middle East and Saudi Arabia especially during haj season is also very high, around 8 million/year. Sheep dung will also be distributed more evenly in the palm oil plantation. Sheep breeding in the palm oil plantation will also increase profits for the palm oil plantation business itself. Even because of the vastness of palm oil plantations reaching 9 million hectares, the potential benefits are also tremendous.

As a Muslim, sheep animals also have significance. Why? In the Qur'an Surah Al An'am (6): 143-144 among eight animals in pairs (4 pairs) are two (one pair) sheep, a pair of goats, a pair of camels and a pair of cattle and sheep mentioned in the first order, of course this sheep has its own privileges, among others, sheep selected as the best animal qurban (QS Ash Shaaffaat (37): 107) and animals that are pastored by all prophets. By shepherding it among the palm oil trees, sheep farms are cheap because they feed on the grasses among the trees.
With the precision farming technology and IoT as tools applied to the palm oil plantations whose essence is to continuously monitor and maintain soil fertility and plantation maintenance by analyzing a number of variables related to the goal of optimizing palm oil production, the palm oil plantation will continues to be sustainable. Making all business activities of the palm is integrated and comprehensive with attention to environmental factors, good business management and take responsibility and with the utilization of latest technology in addition to a great opportunity to be a leader in this line of business is also the prosperity of the earth, such as the command of Allah SWT in the Qur ' An Surah Huud (11): 61.