Wood Vinegar Introduction

February 2015

Introduction to Wood Vinegar for Australian Agriculture

Wood Vinegar, also called pyroligneous acid, liquid smoke, pyrolysis water, smoke water, wood distillate or Mokusaku, is an amber liquid produced through the natural act of carbonization during charcoal/biochar production.
Wood vinegar is acidic with a pH of around 2.5 – 3.0 and contains a multitude of organic compounds: the major components aside from water include acetic acid and methanol. The composition and properties of wood vinegar depend on feed source materials as well as the method (time/temperature) of pyrolysis.
It is proposed that instead of the specific effectiveness of a certain element, in the case of wood vinegar, various elements work synergistically for a greater outcome.

How it is made:
Organic biomass material is heated in an oxygen reduced environment leading to the thermal decomposition of materials and release of gases (called pyrolysis) – this exhaust smoke is condensed (cooled) into a liquid. The condensate then further separates and refined into Tar, Wood Vinegar and Bio-Oil.
Production equipment can vary from basic metal drums or in ground fire pits covered in clay mud with cooled bamboo chimneys to state of the art industrial processors that are completely controlled continuous biomass converters.

There is evidence of use dating back thousands of years to the Amazon basin black terra preta earth – - in the 1800 and 1900’s there was substantial factories that commercially produced wood vinegar with creosote as a source of acetic acid – - Japan and throughout Asia has used it extensively for several decades for all sorts of uses and replacement of synthetic agrichemicals.

Feedstock and our process:
Wood Vinegar can be made from many biomass resources and processor types which will vary the composition of the end product. Wood Vinegar Australia product is produced from sustainable organic wood chips with the most advanced and controlled production methods available.
The wood chips are the only material used in production, with the heat of process also supplied directly from the feedstock itself. After pyrolysis the wood distillate is settled for several months before processed through our customised filtering plant producing a consistent high quality product with dependable results.

There are many claimed uses for Wood Vinegar but the main commercial applications are: a food additive for enhanced smoke flavoring, industrial source of acetic acid, tar and creosote production, waste water treatment, animal husbandry, human medicinal purposes and agriculture.

WV for Agriculture:
We believe that Wood Vinegar can bring substantial benefits to the Australian agricultural sector. It is a high density liquid with good economic freight costs versus coverage that fits into existing supply chain and on farm infrastructure. There is a growing organic and sustainable supply source from an emerging char production industry allowing a reduced dependency on limited expensive agrichemicals.
The extensive use of Wood Vinegar for agriculture throughout other regions for many decades along with positive trial results leads to a product that can potentially be farm input cost neutral or even negative while improving production results.

Application Notes:
There are so many varied possible uses for wood vinegar, so when deciding on your trial parameters we recommend considering the following points that we have discovered from experience.

  1. Wood Vinegar should not be considered as a stand alone direct replacement for other agrichemicals – it is more beneficial to think of Wood Vinegar as an “enhancer and penetrant” which can help the plant uptake of other existing chemicals you are applying with additional plant and soil health benefits and thus reduce the required doses.
  2. Wood Vinegar is not a traditional fertiliser having low NPK levels
  3. When applying you need to achieve the correct balance to achieve your desired outcome:
  4. used as an additive for improved plant health on top of your existing chemicals which could have possible extra plant health benefits but an additional input cost…OR
  5. used for a penetrant and improved plant uptake by reducing the volume of the existing (more expensive) chemical and replacing directly with wood vinegar it can possibly improve the uptake and have better results than the existing chemical alone with the same or lower input cost…OR
  6. used successfully at more regular lower rates when used just as penetrant to help plant uptake when mixed with the dilution water of other chemicals for a minimal outlay.
  7. Wood Vinegar used alone as a stimulant for seed germination has shown improved strike rate and time for varied species.
  8. Wood Vinegar shows beneficial plant health at lower rates but at increased concentration can also show detrimental effects to the plant health.
  9. Wood Vinegar should always be used diluted and strength will vary between foliar and soil application along with frequency of application.
  10. Longer term regular use has shown signs of much improved plant health and ability to naturally protect themselves

Suggested Dilution Rates:
Below are starting point dilution ratios for trials which can be varied to suit your application and results.

Application Dilution for foliar spray Frequency
Additional to existing chemical applications
1:200 of dilution water
upto every two weeks
Reduction of existing chemicals
direct quantity replacement
10-50% of existing chemical
Used as penetrant for better uptake
1:500 of dilution water
application of other chemical
Improved seed germination
1:200 with water
soaked 24hrs or on planting
Speed up and improve composting
1:100 with water
sprayed daily

  • “dilution water” is the actual water used to dilute the existing chemical
  • dilution ratio can be stronger for herbicides than fertilisers
  • maximum recommended quantity of wood vinegar is 5-8 litres/ha for foliar application
  • soil application can increase maximum recommended quantity by 50%
  • please refer to MSDS at www.woodvinegar.com.au/msds for safe handling and use
  • recommended to only use on small non-critical areas on a trial basis

Results, research and more info:
Although we have and continue to perform and review many potting and in field trials, there is limited scientific research data available for the use of Wood Vinegar in agriculture WVA is hoping to partner with a government/industry body and scientific/university partner in the near future to gain further knowledge.

Summary of some improvement noticed with our trials and other document research:

  • increased seed germination strike rate soaked 24hrs or sprayed on planting
  • improved tree health – darker green leaves for better photosynthesis, thicker and stronger stems, higher growth rates, naturally more resistant to disease.
  • reduced fertiliser or other agrochemical volume used with better yields in viticulture and grain crops
  • higher sugar content in fruits
  • increased soil microbial weight

For more documented and up to date research information please refer to our website www.woodvinegar.com.au/research

Please refer to MSDS at www.woodvinegar.com.au/msds for safe handling and use of Wood Vinegar

This document is not a scientific or instructional document and only intended as a general introduction to Wood Vinegar for agricultural use – it is written from our experience of using the product along with other publicly available resources.

Contact Us:
Please feel free to contact us directly to discuss your application of Wood Vinegar

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