Phil Stevens

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since Aug 07, 2015
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duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
Ashhurst New Zealand
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Recent posts by Phil Stevens

A flame cap burn reaches about 750 C in the active combustion zone. A TLUD, during the most rockety phase of its burn, could do the same, I think. The trick would be setting up a firing shelf that didn't shift or settle as pieces of fuel around it get either consumed or pyrolysed. Someone somewhere must have tried this.

I've thought about a box that would go into the middle of the burn in a kontiki with pottery inside it for firing, but this never went past the brainstorm stage. I'm more partial to the rocket kiln ideas coming out of Wheaton Labs at the moment. Looks more controlled and manageable to me.
1 day ago
From the reading I have done, plus a few years of observation and experience, the main thing that raw biochar pulls from fertile soils is the microbial life. Bacteria and fungi move in and populate the pore structure, and as they're in the process of doing this they are less interested in what's going on out in the bigger world. This is a temporary state and once they've set up shop, they now have a home base that they use to get more active in the surrounding soil while their base population is safe from being eaten by grazing nematodes.

Nitrate and other nutrient ion attraction depends on an excess of these in a soluble form in the soil profile. So all biochar is going to do in this regard is mop up what the soil itself is not holding onto and would otherwise leach away, and it has no special powers to "pull" the ions away from clay or organic matter that they're bound to.
3 days ago
Odds are good that any electrolytic capacitors on the board have perished, too. If (and that's still a big "if") I had the inclination to resurrect something like this, I would reverse engineer it with a Raspberry Pi/Arduino solution to replace the controller.
2 weeks ago

Beau Davidson wrote:My 8 year old liked how the woman in the red head-band talked, and my 5-year-old liked the squiggly river-creatures.  Anyone know what those are?

Tuna (eels). The most beloved and important of our native fish.

2 weeks ago
I've tried peeing on a stump for over two years now and I can confidently report that it is an excellent method of wood preservation! I think what is happening in this case is that the urine is inhibiting fungal establishment in the stump, because it remains intact even as stumps and logs of similar size and even the same species have broken down over the same time frame.

Lignin is a tough molecule to crack and so far only certain types of fungi can do it. High nitrogen supports bacterial growth and they are amateurs when it comes to digesting lignin.
3 weeks ago
The pre-mechanised solution was to cut and stack hay in the pasture where you'd turn the stock out in winter. just let them walk up to the stacks and eat. Stacked hay that was cut and dried at peak maturity will be a lot more nutritious than "standing hay" that's been out in the weather for months, too.

I can cut a quarter acre or more per day with a scythe (and this is going at a relaxed pace, quitting when it gets hot). Stacking is a rake and pitchfork task. I move mine under cover because I can, and because winter is the wet season here. But in a snowy climate (especially where the ground freezes so you don't have to worry about pugging damage) I would definitely lean toward this method.
1 month ago
Agree with William on black nightshade. When it gets flowers and berries we can give you a positive ID, which is cool because this one is edible! Leaves and fruit. believe it or not.

I also see some purslane growing in there, another edible.
1 month ago
A couple of teaspoons of either sodium or potassium bicarbonate per litre of water (warm water helps it dissolve) and add a few drops of dish soap to act as a surfactant.
1 month ago
They started with a bare section. All that was on it was a burned down house and lots of rubbish. Check out the first video at about 4:20 in:

1 month ago
Anywhere there's a fruit processing industry this is an issue. Wine-growing regions have the problem of what to do with all their residue, known as grape marc. It is acidic, doesn't like to compost on its own, leaches things that sterilise the soil, and reeks on warm days if out in the open.

We've had some local research done on the economics of making biochar from part of the grape marc and using it to co-compost the rest. Once you factor in the costs of disposal and controlling leaching, it starts to look viable. Cogeneration or process heat from the pyrolysis is a valuable yield. And if you can reward the biochar production with carbon credits, then it really starts to make sense.

Anyone who adds biochar to their compost would grok get a better result and the extra carbon in the pile seems to mitigate stuff that would ordinarily tend to go anaerobic and stink.
1 month ago