WOOD VINEGAR (WV)
The production of wood vinegar is an integral part of ThermoField Industrials program to develop and demonstrate high temperature solar applications for high impact environmental interventions.
Wood vinegar is produced as a by-product of the charcoal making process in various parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the USA where it is marketed as a certified product.
ThermoField Industrials LPG & syngas recovery pyrolysis system that will soon be upgraded to incorporate high temperature solar heat via a 32m2 fixed-focus parabolic dish which optimizes the use of biomass resources and output of wood vinegar per unit of biomass and heat energy and produces a much cleaner product devoid of tar.
The biomass is deployed in producing wood vinegar and biochar rather than as energy to fuel the pyrolysis process. The process facilitates greater consistency in
quality than is possible with traditional charcoal-making process and improves the ease with which it’s refined for pharmaceutical and cosmetic grade applications.
Wood vinegar is an exciting product with multiple applications in agriculture (as a fertilizer, fungicide, pest repellant, growth stimulant, soil sterilizer), animal husbandry and poultry farming (antibiotic and animal feed fortifier, sterilizer and deodorant), pharmaceuticals (gastrointestinal) and cosmetics (dermatological health).
Wood vinegar (WV) is a natural reddish brown, biodegrading natural acid extract (Ph of 2.8-3.2) and contains over 200 useful different organic compounds produced by the destructive high temperature distillation of wood. As a natural fertilizer and insect repellant, it reduces the dependency of agrochemicals and the risk of harm to humans and animals and soil and water pollution. Wood vinegar contains acetic acid, butyric acid, formic acid, catechol, butanol and phenol and has a compound effect of promoting crop and plant growth, enhances biological and abiotic resistance of crops (Kunmialo Zhu et al).
Soil acidity in Kenya
According to The Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO), 63 per cent of Kenya’s agricultural land (13% of the country’s land mass), is acidic and poses a direct threat to the nation’s food security goals. Soil acidity reduces the availability of nutrients such as phosphorus and molybdenum while increasing the availability of some elements to toxic levels (aluminum and manganese).
Fertilizers and soil acidity
Organic fertilizers contain carbon, that alongside nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) feeds microbes and enables them to make nutrients available for plant growth in a natural biological process.
Synthetic/artificial fertilizers on the other hand contain macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur etc.) but lack micronutrients (boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese) that are required in very small quantities but are crucial for various plant growth and development processes such as assisting protein synthesis, flowering and fruiting.
Alongside fertilizers containing nitrogen (NPK), ammonium-based fertilizers (DAP) are the major
contributors of soil acidification, especially where the fertilizer is applied in excessive quantities and the nitrogen is leached into the soil rather than taken up by the plants.
Wood vinegar is therefore a cost-effective, long-term solution to the processes of soil management, crop yield
improvement and pest management without the negative
environmental and health impacts of synthetic fertilizers
and toxic pesticides. It’s further utility as a natural antibiotic for poultry and livestock raring and composting makes it’s an extremely useful product for practically all forms of farming.
Deploying wood vinegar will protect your farm against
reduced output in future due to high levels of acidity, which may happen as quickly as in a year or two. Liquid fertilizers are better spread and absorbed into soils and by plants and are thus less prone to leaching and run off.
Plant & crop fertilization
Applied every two weeks during the growing season, wood vinegar reduces the cluster value (concentration of minerals and nutrients) of water by a third (1/3). This means that the water is activated and is more easily absorbed by plants and animals, thus reducing the need for agro-chemicals. WV should however not be used with alkaline fertilizers (DAP, pH 7.5 to 8), but is perfectly complements for NPK (3.6 to 7.2). WV reduces the requirement for agro-chemicals and synthetic fertilizers by 50% (by increasing absorption and retention, especially when co-applied with biochar) in a 1: 500 bamboo vinegar solution, increasing root, stem and foliar mass by up to 40%, improving the overall safety of humans and animals and reducing water and soil pollution.
The acid and alcohol content in wood vinegar partially sterilizes soils and reduces bacterial, fungal and insect pest infestations. Mix in the ratio of 1: 50-100 and sprinkle 1litre of the solution over 1 square meter of planting area
Foliar, fungicide and pest repellant
Applied in the ratio of 1:500-1000 once every two months, wood vinegar enhances fruit flavor, firmness and colour by preventing excessive nitrogen levels and improving plant metabolism and bud formation by enabling better
photosynthesis and higher chlorophyll content. Improves plant resistance to disease and pest infestations. Apply to plant until the leaves drip.
Seed germination & seedling growth
Soak seeds in 1:200 wood vinegar solution for 24 hours before planting to improve the speed and strike rate of seed germination. For seedling, dilute in the ratio of 1:800-1000, foliar spray or root irrigation (first applied at 2nd leaf stage) at intervals of 15 days (Appropriate Technology Association of Thailand)
Disinfecting compost, animal manure and urine
WV applied to compost in the ratio of 1: 50 increases the biological activity of beneficial microbes and accelerating the rate of composting. Still, compost ((Legionella longbeachea), animal manure (E. coli, Salmonella Listeria, Clostridium) and infected rabbit urine (E. cuniculi) especially may contain harmful bacteria that may only be neutralized by heat or a strong acidic solution. Wood vinegar is an effective mycobactericidal disinfectant against most bacteria.
Livestock and poultry feed supplement & anti-biotic
Wood vinegar in animal feed (1: 200-300) adjusts bacterial levels in the digestive tract of animals thus improving nutrient absorption. WV reduces the incidence of diseases caused by bacteria in animal husbandry and poultry, reducing incidents of diseases and deaths (especially of chicks), catalyzing growth and improving the quality of eggs, milk and meat.
As a supplement for livestock feed mixed at a rate of 1:200 to 1:300 in clean water, wood vinegar adjusts the bacterial levels in the animals’ digestive tract, thus improving the absorption of nutrients from animal feed. Studies show that wood vinegar in chicken feed eliminates salmonella, the bacteria that causes gastrointestinal diseases in chickens. Farmers in Thailand have reported improved egg-laying performance, egg-hatching efficiency, better taste and harder eggshells, improved overall livestock performance in fertility rates, meat quality, milk production, feed efficiency and reduced diarrhea in piglets.
Studies published in the Italian Journal of Animal Science (2017) indicate that a 1-1.5% level of WV in chicken layers diet decreased pathogenic bacteria counts and improved eggshell thickness and quality as a means of reducing egg damage during the laying period.
Wood vinegar carries organic phenolic compounds that improve the shelf life and retains the aroma of cut flowers over a longer period of time.
The cut flowers of Zantedeschia aethiopica were selected as materials to study the effect of six different concentrations bamboo vinegar on the preservation of cut flowers of Zantedeschia aethiopica. The vase life, water balance value, soluble sugar, soluble protein and MDA content were tested. The results showed that bamboo vinegar in the ratio of 1000∼1500 in water could effectively decrease the loss of water, slow the rate of decline of soluble sugar and protein content and the rate of generation of MDA of cut flowers during vase holding, thus extending the vase life of cut Zantedeschia aethiopic flowers, especially the 1500 times is better.
In all, bamboo vinegar of proper concentration can delay the senescence and extend florescence of cut Zantedeschia aethiopic flowers.
Deodorizer & Pest Management
A 1:200 wood vinegar solution diminishes the production of odor-causing ammonia in animal pens and will keep dogs and cats away from garbage bins. Apply a 1:1000 vinegar solution to affected areas to repel house and fruit flies and keeps mosquitoes from breeding in water storage tanks.
Biomass charcoal’ is a by-product of the pyrolysis process that makes wood vinegar from bamboo wood and biomass waste and is different from ordinary charcoal in the sense that the higher temperatures in processing and nearcomplete absence of oxygen retains produces an engineered product with a higher content of fixed-carbon (90 over 75% for good quality charcoal), porosity (large surface area) and a stronger electric charge in a process that gives it the numerous benefits in agricultural applications by creating sites to hold nutrients and microorganisms beneficial to plants.
- Attracts and retains water molecules thus improving the water holding capacity of soil
- Reduces nutrient leaching and increases cation exchange capacity (CEC) making nutrients like
phosphorous more available to plant roots.
- Carries a negative charge that binds to nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium
which makes it an excellent medium for remedying high acidity soils.
- By binding nutrients, it reduces the required amount of fertilizer.
- Since there’s a significant reduction in nutrient run-off, biochar also limits any possible
negative environmental impact on water bodies.
- The production of biochar pre-empts the emission of carbon dioxide and methane into the
atmosphere that otherwise occur if the plant material decomposed naturally.
Inoculation & top-dressing
Biochar needs to be inoculated before it’s deployed to prevent it from absorbing nutrients in competition with the plants over the initial 3-6 months of application. This may be achieved by introducing microbes and enzymes in a controlled process, at the farm/garden level by mixing it with compost 3 months before applying it to soil or for best results soaking it in a wood vinegar-water solution (1: 500) 1-3 days for application in the usual top-dress manner, applying anything from 2 handfuls to a kilogram per square meter of garden, depending on soil depth, volume and Ph (more for soils with higher acidity).
The combination of biochar and wood vinegar used together is arguably the most effective and holistic organic alternative to traditional synthetic fertilizers.
Studies published by IOP Science Publishing Ltd (‘The effect of adding biochar with wood vinegar on the growth of cucumber’, March 2017) showed that the combined addition of biochar with wood vinegar had the greatest promotion effect on the plant growth of cucumber. Compared to the control treatment, the biochar addition with wood vinegar significantly increased the plant height, root length, root volume and root tips by 29.7%, 117%, 121% and 76.1%, respectively.
These positive effects could be attributed to the benefits of the addition of biochar with wood vinegar treatment on improving soil fertility, increasing nutrient supply, and further stimulating plant growth.
About ThermoField Industrial
Thermofield Industrial is a Kenyan solar thermal technology enterprise dedicated to developing, demonstrating and disseminating the widest range of high temperature solar thermal technology and applications in Africa.
Our mission to develop the potential in Kenya into a technology hub for high temperature solar applications based on parabolic dish and linear fresnel lens technology is driven by two decades of applied research and development.
Thermofield Industrial develops and implements high temperature solar heat solutions to some of the greatest environmental and sustainability challenges facing agribusiness and industry today. From solutions for the control of thermal energy costs and the management of industrial emissions at the production level to the development long-term strategic, energy and environmental goals, we assist our clients develop and execute circular and sustainable solutions based on clean thermal energy.