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Exploring The Beneficial Uses Of Wood Vinegar

For more than 30 years now, Japanese farmers have been using wood vinegar to improve crop and livestock production. They use it as: 1) foliar spray, particularly for fungus (grey molds), 2) insecticide when mixed with hot pepper, 3) enhancer for compost-making, 4) soil conditioner to improve the soil when mixed with charcoal, and 5) feed supplement or additives for livestock feeds.

What is wood vinegar?

Wood vinegar is a liquid substance that is obtained when organic materials such as wood, coconut shell, bamboo, grass, and other plants are placed in a heating chamber. When these materials are heated, their juices, oils, and liquid contents evaporate as steam or vapor. The vapor passes through a tube where it will be allowed to cool. When cooled, the vapor will turn into liquid (condensation process). The chamber is heated by burning firewood at the lower portion of the chamber. The liquid (wood vinegar) flows from a tube into a container ready for packing, storage, or use.

Wood vinegar contains organic substances such as organic acids, phenolic substances, carbon substances, alcohol, neutral materials, and base acidic substances. In addition, around 200 chemical substances are also present. Studies showed that when charcoal and wood vinegar were used as feed supplements in poultry, salmonella bacteria, which are responsible for gastrointestinal diseases of chickens, were eliminated. In chicken egg production, farmers claimed that their hens improved their egg-laying performance, had better rearing characteristics, and improved their hatching efficiency. It also improved the quality of eggs such as better taste, reduced cholesterol content, and had harder egg shells.

Studies on swine production showed that sows improved their performance. They became healthier, their fertility rate improved, and piglet size became uniform. The fatteners also improved their feeding efficiency and meat quality. The foul odor from the manure of the pigs was also reduced. Furthermore, reports from farmers indicated that their sows increased their milk production and diarrhea among piglets were prevented or cured.

In cattle, it is said that wood vinegar also improved meat quality, fertility rate, milk production, and feed efficiency.

How to make

Wood vinegar is actually a distillate of burning wood. According to Mr. Masaki Yokomori, technical consultant of the Japanese Agricultural Exchange Cooperation (JAEC) of the government of Japan, an estimated cost of P30,000 is needed for the chamber construction. Although the design can be modified to suit available resources, other necessities such as water, firewood, bamboo, grasses, and others must readily be available. Except for pine tree, any tree species can be utilized in producing wood vinegar.

The Thailand Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Production Sciences Research and Development Office recommends the following as steps in producing wood vinegar:

  1. Cure wood that has heartwood and bark for 5 - 15 days.
  2. Pile wood in the kiln. Close the kiln and cover every hole with clay. Burn it at 120-430ºC.
  3. After one hour, put a tile at the top of the chimney. If brown or dark brown drops appear on the tile, allow smoke to flow through a bamboo pipe so that the hot steam may be condensed into liquid.
  4. Place a vessel to collect the vinegar drops from the bamboo pipe.
  5. If wood is burned for 12-15 hours in a 200-liter oil drum kiln, it should produce 2-7 liters of wood vinegar. At this stage, it is called raw wood vinegar.
  6. Leave the raw wood vinegar for three months to become silted. The vinegar will turn yellow like vegetable oil, after which it will turn light brown and the tar will become silted. The top content will be light, clear oil. Remove the tar and light oil, as well as the dark brown translucent oil and the remainder will be sour vinegar.

How to use

The wood vinegar must be blended with water in a ratio of 1:50 (1 liter wood vinegar and 50 liters water), or up to a ratio of 1:800 (1 liter wood vinegar and 800 liters water).

For plant production specifically, spray the solution over plant shoots. Wood vinegar, like hormones, will be absorbed into twigs, trunks, or leaves. Plants will be stronger, and leaves will be greener and resistant to pests and diseases. Alternative technology

The technology offers an alternative agricultural product that is environmentally safe, locally available, and seemingly easy to follow technology. This addresses the present and emerging problems that are affecting the farming industry. Foremost of which are the steadily increasing prices of farm inputs like fertilizers, feeds, pesticides, and antibiotics.

These are compounded by issues related to the production of safe and cheap food, and environmental pollution from the use of chemicals, and from decomposing animal and farm waste. The mitigation of these concerns must be facilitated by the use of wood vinegar thus, a closer look at this technology is recommended.

For more information on this technology, please contact OIC Joselito Noceda of DA-RFU IVA Technology Generation (TechGen) at telephone numbers (046) 4121461, (046) 4121463 or email at: da_techgen@yahoo.com<

6 January 2009
Christmas B. de Guzman
source: http://bar.gov.ph/news/woodvinegar.asp

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