Tigercat carbonator turns feral trees into biochar

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Feral olive trees are being turned into a product which is helping to improve soil at vineyards in a government-backed pilot project.

The South Australian state government is a partner in the project, which involves removing the feral olive trees from four sites in Adelaide including national parks, and turning them into biochar.

Created through an environmentally-friendly carbon recycling process, the biochar is sold to commercial partners of the project, including vineyards in the nearby McLaren Vale region.

The machinery making all of this possible is the portable Tigercat 6050 Carbonator.

Only arriving into the country last November, the 6050 Carbonator burns the trees at 500C, reducing the volume of debris by up to 95 per cent and creating biochar.

Once the biochar is created, it can be used to improve soil structure, increase its water holding capacity and retain nutrients.

Tigercat says the 6050 carbonator has the lowest carbon footprint of any competing material reduction methods, which it says is due to no resulting organic decay, along with the associated release of greenhouse gasses.

Features of the 6050 include replaceable thermo-ceramic panels rated to 1650C, under and over-air fans to maximize carbon content and a quenching system to cool the end product and improve its quality.

Tigercat's 6050 carbonator is being used in the Adelaide pilot project

The 6050 is imported by Onetrak and the company’s managing director David Hazell says there has been strong nationwide interest in the product since the concept was released, which he says carries multiple benefits.

"Environmentally sensitive ways to manage wood residue and convert to a high value product like biochar is a sensible and commercial alternative to burning these products to the atmosphere or landfill," he says.

South Australian environment and water minister David Speirs says the project, which has already involved more than eight hectares of feral trees being removed, will benefit both environment and industry.

"Our national parks conserve vitally important ecosystems, habitats, plants and animals, unique land formations, and culturally significant places," he says.

"By removing an invasive pest plant species and turning it into a valuable commodity we are not only better protecting our beautiful flora and fauna but we supporting local industry in a win-win for the environment and our economy."

Tigercat's 6050 carbonator turns trees into biochar

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