Chats with the Chief Charista

For the past nine months or so, I’ve had the privilege of serving on the Planning Committee for the 2013 North American Biochar Symposium at UMass Amherst along with many other dedicated volunteers.  The workshops or sessions have been sliced into four different tracks: Feedstock & Production; Benefits & Uses; Policy & Community and Sales, Scale & Marketing.  I nabbed the B&U track as this is where my particular interest lies within the whole biochar realm. 

The B&U sub-committee received a wide variety of abstracts from all corners of the world (not that a globe really has corners!).  To sift through the abstracts, we developed certain criteria to use for the B&U track, one of which was that it must be relevant to the North American market.  For better or worse this meant that some very interesting and excited research being done in Africa, Australia or other areas were not included as the soils are not similar and so the research may not be transferable or very relevant for the interests of the majority of the attendees.  We were also looking, as much as possible, for proven results versus possible strategies and ended up advocating that a few be moved to other tracks.

Our current B&U roster for the 8 sessions scheduled includes 24 presenters coming from seven different countries, including private companies, non-profits and academia (including representatives from four different land-grant universities!).  Quite an impressive group!  I thought it might be interesting to introduce some of our speakers before the event to whet the appetite for attendees, both prospective and confirmed, for the kind of individuals that will be imparting their knowledge at the Symposium