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Biochar benefits reaching golf courses

By |  August 11, 2022 0 Comments

As increasingly large regions experience water shortages, California-based V-Grid Energy Systems and its Persist biochar soil additive aim to put a dent in required golf course hydration and fertilization.

Greg Campbell, V-Grid Energy Systems CEO and co-founder. (Photo: V-Grid Energy Systems)

Greg Campbell, V-Grid Energy Systems CEO and co-founder. (Photo: V-Grid Energy Systems)

According to V-Grid, golf courses can cut water use by 40 percent through use of biochar.

Biochar, a black carbon produced from biomass such as wood chips, plant residues, manure or other agricultural waste products, creates a sponge that retains moisture and nutrients in soil to decrease irrigation needs.

V-Grid CEO and co-founder Greg Campbell says his company has allowed select customers to try out Persist biochar, with plans calling for broader promotion to begin no later than September.

“More and more people have been expressing interest to us, but we’re just starting to roll it out, kind of a word-of-mouth thing,” he says. “We got a recent order from Twin Dolphin (Golf Club) down in Los Cabos. There are a couple other courses that are getting quotes and samples. It’s moving along pretty quickly after they hear about all the benefits.”

Campbell’s company demonstrated Persist biochar in February at the Golf Course Superintendents of America Association (GCSAA) Conference and Trade Show, a showing that garnered a plethora of interest.

“There were a ton of connections made through that, but we’re waiting on the big sales campaign,” he says. “We want to be marketing in September. That’s pretty set in stone.”

A golf course in the Southwestern U.S. applies Persist biochar to one of its greens with hopes of increasing water and nutrient retention. (Photo: V-Grid Energy Systems)

A golf course in the Southwestern U.S. applies Persist biochar to one of its greens with hopes of increasing water and nutrient retention. (Photo: V-Grid Energy Systems)

Product versatility, adaptability

Biochar absorbs and retains significant amounts of water, giving seeds a better chance to germinate and does not expand in size when wet — potentially cutting down on repaired divots damaged during mowing operations.

Persist biochar also improves the effectiveness of topdressing activities, reducing overall watering and fertilization expense, V-Grid says.

For general planting, V-Grid recommends a 10-20-percent biochar mix.

Increasing soil’s ability to retain nutrients to prevent leaching and promote fertility is among several other benefits of biochar use cited by Campbell. He adds that his product lowers a user’s overall carbon footprint. As by storing or sequestering biochar long-term in soil, it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In addition to biochar, V-Grid offers Persist PAF liquid plant enhancer. PAF improves the availability of iron and other minerals to grass and plants, which are essential in chlorophyll production, promoting photosynthesis and greener grass.

Campbell says he and colleagues very much look forward to making a market splash with Persist biochar and PAF over the next few months.

“An agronomist we spoke to at one country club was familiar with biochar,” he says. “He wanted to get it right away, and we shipped him biochar to put right on his course. We have the ability to grind the biochar and sift it. That means we control the particle size. We were able to match the topdress sand particle size. He applied it to his greens, and now, when you water those greens, the carbon holds the water and fertilizer compound so much better.”

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