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Inside Biochar: Experts Discuss Activated Charcoal and Herd Health in Canada

Answering Questions Like Can Charcoal Close the Door on Antibiotics?

If oil was the “black gold” of the twentieth century, activated charcoal will be the “black gold” of the twenty-first. Biochar, activated charcoal, wood charcoal, sequestered carbon—whatever name you call it, it arrived on the Canadian agricultural landscape with a bang, and it’s here to stay.

Environmentalists have long been touting biochar as an important way to sequester carbon (mitigating carbon emissions) and improve soils. But Europe has also long been using activated charcoal in animal feed, to improve gut health in livestock, increase milk and egg production, and even reduce odours. 

An expanding number of activated charcoal applications brings new opportunities for farmers and industry professionals. Take advantage of these opportunities by attending our free interactive panel discussion where you’ll learn:

  • What direction the application of activated charcoal to Canadian farms might take over the near future. 

  • The uses for activated charcoal in agriculture Kathleen Draper has seen around the world and in Canada.

  • What Dr. Abigail Carpenter has learned from studying activated charcoal effects on methane gas production and gut health of dairy cows.

  • How farmer Aaron Smith has used activated charcoal to benefit his prized Holstein cows over the last year.



Kathleen Draper

US Director, Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence

Kathleen Draper has contributed extensively to biochar research, communication and outreach through her roles as US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence, member of the International Biochar Initiative (IBI) Board, and Chair of the IBI’s Information Hub. Outside of this, she works with universities and individuals to research biochar uses and has authored several books on     the topic.


Gail Carpenter, PhD

Dairy Nutritionist,

CSA Animal Nutrition

Gail is a dairy nutritionist working in technical services for CSA Animal Nutrition in Dayton, OH. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor of Dairy Nutrition Management at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, where her research focused on sustainable solutions for dairy nutrition management, including biochar as a feed additive for dairy cattle. She is an active member of the American Dairy Science Association and volunteers with the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge competition.


Aaron Smith 

Owner operator,

Don-Mair Farms Ltd.

Aaron Smith is the owner operator of Don-Mair Farms Ltd. in Mt Hope, ON, and a Dairy Consultant for Prairie Micro-tech. He is currently farming 500 acres while operating a 75 head milking herd of Holsteins, using activated charcoal in his calf starter and dairy rotation. Under   the Legend-maker prefix, Aaron focuses on high type and longevity with 55% of his herd being 3rd lact or higher and a herd classification of 22 Multi Excellent, 17 EX, 35 VG, and 6 GP two-year-olds. In his 10,000 sq ft composting pack barn, newly constructed in 2017, he has current production numbers of 37L, avg 55 fat, 3.5 prot, and 95,000 scc.