Ithaka Institut

Ithaka Journal

The Ithaka-Journal is the Ithaka Institute’s most important communication medium, the place where we publish our findings, visions and observations and where we discuss new ideas on different ways of using biochar, on carbon cycling, ecosystem remediation, fostering biodiversity, winegrowing, natural winemaking and much more. Below are our latest articles in English. You can find many more in German on the Ithaka Journal.


Building earthquake resistant clay houses

Many thousands of clay houses crumbled during the recent earthquakes in Nepal. But that did not happen because of insufficient strength of the clay as a building material, but rather because basic construction rules were disregarded. Gernot Minke, an international expert on clay building, explains in this interview how to build clay houses that resist earthquakes even better ...

Nepal Climate Farming Fund

One week after the earthquake in Nepal and thanks to the generous support of the European Biochar Community, the Nepali Climate Farming Fund was launched and has already brought relief to many Nepali biochar farmers that suffered the collapse or damage to their homes. In exchange for an advance of 5000 NRP (US$50) for future carbon credits, each farmer family signed a ...

Vines take up yeasts from soil and transport them through the vine to the stem and skins of grapes

In a vineyard field experiment it was demonstrated that Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast can be adsorbed from the soil by the roots of Vitis vinifera subs. vinifera and transported via vine to the stems and surface of the grapes. To exclude any extrinsic yeast contamination, the ripening grapes were sterilized and wrapped in plastic bags. Eleven active dried yeasts from ...

Biochar Paper – elevating biochar from novelty to ubiquity

Pack your fruits and vegetables in a biochar box, double their shelf life then compost the boxes with the leftovers and make Terra Preta in your backyard. Biochar paper and cardboard might become the most influential invention to mitigate climate change while reducing organic residues sent to landfills. Biochar has a wide variety of beneficial properties that can ...

Kon-Tiki – the democratization of biochar production

A simple but ingenious invention finally allows each farmer and gardener, everywhere in the world, to produce for themselves a sufficient quantity of high quality biochar. With reasonable investment and some know-how of the charmaker’s craft, farmers can produce in one afternoon a cubic meter of high quality biochar. This democratization of biochar production will be a key ...

The use of biochar as building material – cities as carbon sinks

Biochar, a highly porous material produced from plant waste, is mostly used in agriculture as a soil conditioner, in livestock farming as a feed supplement, and in metalworking as a reducing agent. It can also be used for cleaning “grey water”, as an absorber in sports clothing, in batteries and many other uses (see 55 Uses of Biochar). The latest developments at ...

Justus von Liebig and the Birth of Modern Biochar

Biochar is one of the oldest soil amendments in the history of agriculture. However, with the advent of modern agro-chemistry, the agronomic value of biochar got rapidly into oblivion. Only lately, when biochar got into focus as climate mitigation strategy, it’s function as soil amendment and nutrient carrier was rediscovered. All the more its fascinating to see that at the ...

Switzerland: the first European country to officially approve biochar

Switzerland has become the first country in Europe to officially approve the use of certified biochar in agriculture, with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture issuing its approval on 23 April 2013. In it, the Ithaka Institute is given responsibility for controlling biochar quality and the sustainability of its production. Following an exceptionally thorough 3-year ...