International Biochar Initiative First Biochar Academy

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The 2023 Biochar Academy is your chance to immerse yourself in all things biochar. Led by IBI Board Chair Kathleen Draper and other Upstate NY biochar experts and practitioners as well as world-renowned experts from around the globe, this two-week, in-person program will be held from June 19 – June 30th, 2023. It will provide a unique opportunity to quickly connect with and contribute to scaling the biochar industry. Please see the application link below – applications will be accepted until 31 March 2023.*


  • Learn to become an effective biochar advocate and educator, equipped with essential knowledge for training and communicating biochar fundamentals to farmers, financiers, regulators, policy makers, and more.
  • Hear from biochar experts from Cornell University, the University of Rochester and others on the history, current state and future of biochar research, commercial activity and opportunities for farmers, producers and others in the biochar eco-system.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between biochar, climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Learn about the growing number of biochar production technologies, their co-products, scaling potential and more.
    Understand the carbon removal marketplace and opportunities for biochar producers and in the developing world for farmers.
  • Visit at least two biochar production sites, research facilities and farms using biochar (e.g. dairy farm, mushroom farm)
  • Network with other biochar stakeholders working in research, farmer education, carbon removal markets, biochar production and market development.

Draft Syllabus Biochar Academy.docx

A full schedule will be available for accepted Academy participants.


  • Discuss biochar and the current state of the biochar industry in different regions of the world
  • Make biochar using low tech methods
  • Identify and explain the carbon removal marketplaces that currently have or are planning to have biochar methodologies
  • Take accurate samples of biochar for characterization and analysis
  • Identify and discuss a wide variety of applications for biochar
  • Explain how to set up a proper trial using biochar in soils.
  • Qualified to train others on how to make and use biochar.

NOTE: Select trainees may be able to be certified as C-Sink Managers for the Artisan C-Sink methodology. This methodology is focused on educating developing world farmers on biochar production and verification of carbon sequestration and may not apply to all participants. It may also require an additional day of training over the weekend.


Please fill in this form to access the Biochar Academy Application.

*Scholarship applications are now closed.

As the number of students will be limited and IBI intends to make every attempt to host a geographically diverse first cohort, an application process will be used. Our goal is to include students from Africa, Australia / New Zealand / Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

The application process is now open and will end on 31 March 2023 at 6pm (Eastern Standard Time). Selected students will be notified by mid-April and must confirm attendance by April 31, 2023.


Tuition for the full two weeks is $2,000 and must be prepaid by April 31st to secure your spot. In case of cancellation 75% will be refunded if canceled by April 30th and 50% refunded if cancellation is before May 31. We highly recommend travel insurance coverage including tuition. All travel and lodging expenses are the responsibility of attendees.

A block of suites at a local community college is being organized for students at a rate of ~$50 per day. Other nearby hotels, Bed & Breakfasts and AirBnBs are available, but fill up quickly during the summer. Rates vary from $100 – $300+ per day.

IBI is seeking to raise scholarship funding for up to 10 students to help defray traveling expenses. All scholarship funds will be used by IBI to cover expenses directly and will not be paid out directly to students. Selection for scholarship students is likely to be significantly more competitive than for non-scholarship students.

NOTE: Scholarship students will be requested to assist in planning and delivering future IBI Biochar Academy trainings in their country/region and will be paid a stipend for their assistance with future trainings.

Travel health insurance is highly recommended for all students and is required for scholarship students.


The first Biochar Academy is being hosted in Canandaigua, NY, a historic and scenic small town located in Western New York. The closest airports are:

Rochester, NY (ROC) – ~50 minutes
Syracuse, NY (SYR) – ~ 60 minutes
Buffalo, NY (BUF) – ~90 minutes
There are also buses and trains from New York City-area airports – Grayhound, Trailways, and Amtrak for options.

Future Academies: We anticipate hosting additional Biochar Academies in various regions of the world roughly twice per year once we have translated materials and identified appropriate hosting locations.


We will record all sessions and convert them into eLearning modules which will be made available to a larger audience later in 2023. In addition, we plan to embed a 2 day session within the Academy which will be opened to a broader audience. This session will focus on agricultural uses of biochar and will include a field trip to Cornell University and other biochar projects in the region. More details on this will be available in the coming months.







Kathleen Draper | IBI Board Chair, US Director – Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence, United States

Kathleen Draper is IBI’s Board Chair and has been in the biochar industry for more than a decade. She has co-authored two books about biochar (BURN: Using Fire to Cool the Earth and Terra Preta: How the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger) and written and spoken about biochar to audiences around the globe. She is the US Director for the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence, a non-profit, open-source organization focused on the use of biochar in climate farming, agroforestry as well as other industrial uses of biochar. She is also a co-founder of C-interest, a materials company working to commercialize biochar-based composites. She has a Master’s degree in Managing for Sustainability. Prior to becoming involved with the biochar world, she worked for an international consulting firm working on various internal and external areas including project and knowledge management, human resources, and more.

Johannes Lehmann | Cornell University, United States

Johannes Lehmann, Liberty Hyde Bailey professor of soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management at Cornell University, received his graduate degrees in Soil Science at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. His research focuses on nano-scale investigations of soil organic matter, the biogeochemistry of pyrogenic carbon, sustainable soil management, climate change, biochar systems and the circular economy. Dr. Lehmann is a member of the steering group of the International Soil Carbon Network, has testified in the US congress, and briefed the President’s council of advisors. He authored more than 250 journal publications, has been named Highly-Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuter since 2014, is member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), of the board of the International Biochar Initiative, and Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, he was named Humboldt Fellow and Hans-Fischer Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Technical University of Munich.

Debbie Aller

As program coordinator for the New York Soil Health Program, Debbie Aller PhD, conducts applied research and coordinates extension activities that help agriculture producers improve soil health using sustainable soil management practices. Debbie offers an in-depth research background in biochar and other organic amendments and expertise in working with vegetable, fruit, and nursery growers. She earned her M.Sc. in Environmental Science and International Development from the University of Edinburgh and Ph.D. in Soil Science from Iowa State University.

Akio Enders

Akio Enders has been driven to improve the fit between mankind and the natural world most of his adult life. As an avid horticulturist, Akio’s early focus was green roofs. This led to a Master’s in Agriculture from Cornell University in 2005, after which he became Production Manager for the industry leading nursery, Emory Knoll Farms. When circumstances brought Akio back to Ithaca, NY he started his own green roof plant nursery, only to find that growing the plants was more rewarding than marketing them, and that salesmanship was perhaps not his calling.

At the time, Professor Johannes Lehmann needed someone to oversee a biochar greenhouse trial, and so began Akio’s 12-year tenure in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Cornell University. From beginnings as a technician performing laboratory analyses, Akio was able to leverage his attention to detail, scientific mindset, and critical thinking to become a Research Support Specialist. In this capacity, he designed and fabricated data collection tools and other automated research equipment. Notably, Akio was instrumental in the assembly, troubleshooting, commissioning, and operation of the Cornell Pyrolysis Facility.

Over the years, Akio participated in multivarious biochar research ranging from greenhouse and field trials to pyrolysis cook stoves and even investigations of biochar-mineral associations using electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy. Akio has collaborated with countless graduate students, post-doctoral associates, and scholars, resulting in many co-authored publications. He was first author of “Characterization of biochars to evaluate recalcitrance and agronomic performance”, one of the top 10 most cited papers of 2014 in the journal Bioresource Technology. Additionally, Akio was first author of the chapters “Proximate analyses for characterising [sic] biochars” and “Total elemental analysis of metals and nutrients in biochars” in Biochar A Guide to Analytical Methods.

Akio continues to strive to use his experience to encourage environmentally beneficial utilization of resources. A recent project focused on valorization of dairy manure through thermal upgrading, and most recently he presented talks at the 2022 North American Biochar Conference in addition to webinars for the International Biochar Initiative.



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June 30