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Article:Junipers are great for renewable biomass

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Junipers Get No Respect

by Jim Miller

October 12, 2009

Like Rodney Dangerfield, Junipers get no respect. They ought to get some respect. I read an article written by a self-described environmentalist, who wrote that Junipers should all be cut down in the deserts because the suck up precious water. I disagree.

The Juniper serves very useful purposes:

As wind brakes which slows down the wind and reduces wind-driven soil erosion.

Has a root mass which prevents erosion from wind and rain.

Harbors wildlife.

Look good in an otherwise sere desert.

Is part of Mother Nature, and we don't fool with Mother Nature.

There is a way to selectively and sustainably harvest some of the Juniper. It is the ancient practice of “Coppicing” The basic premise is that if the major part of a tree is removed and one major, healthy limb coming from near the base of the tree is left, it will grow into a new trunk. You see this practice in cut Christmas tree farms.

This practice preserves the root mass which immediately goes to work supplying the remaining limb with water and nutrient. The trunk above the limb to be left, should be cut on a slope then sealed with a bitumen salve to prevent water from exiting the cut and prevent insect infestation. In a few years the limb becomes the new trunk.

The harvested biomass of the Juniper is rich in oil and is “slow roasted” by the pyrolysis process into syngas and biochar. The syngas can be reformulated into a number of gases and heavy oils. The biochar (charcoal) retains about 50% of the available energy in the form of oils and entrained gas.

The biochar has many uses:

Ground and used in activated charcoal as filter and gas absorbers.

Ground and infused with the BioOil from the pyrolysis process, then processed into pellets and briquettes as BioCoalLiteTM.

Ground and infused with suitable micro-organisms and their nutrients, thereby making Agrichar. When Agrichar is worked into about two feet of soil (55 tons per acre), it so enriches the soil that crop yield increases by as much as eight times. Agrichar has been around for over 7000 years and is also known as “Terra Preta du Indio”.

Simply laid on the top of the ground as a mulch around productive trees and shrubs.

During Halloween, use the charcoal to draw Maori “fright” lines on the kids faces. See

When one “digs down” into agronomy science, a reader will learn that the bacteria exude a sort of paste which “glues” the soil particles together so they “clump”. These clumped soil particles then allow for interstitial spaces which in turn allow for infiltration of water and oxygen, thus driving the nutrient exchange between the There was an error working with the wiki: Code[1] fungi and the plant roots. The point of infusing nutrient into the charcoal is to provide a food source for the “soil critters” who, as one biologist said, “Like to sit down to eat”.

Moreover, once the soil begins to build with nutrient from Agrichar, we need to introduce worms and dung beetles. These critters are the best “soil engineers” around and they work for free.

So, there you have the best of both worlds: sustainable harvest of Junipers, preservation and enhancement of soils, and abundant crop yields. Now, give the Juniper some respect.