Work Item
ASTM WK65350

New Practice for Conducting Conservation Burns of Biomass

1. Scope

This standard establishes guidelines and best practices for the conservation burn of biomass including but not limited to woody material. Included in this standard are descriptions of field conditions, activities, equipment, and minimum safety procedures required for a successful Conservation Burn.


air quality, open burning, ag burning, pile burning, biochar, biochar production, biomass, conservation burn, biomass reduction


Current practice for the disposal and volume reduction of surplus biomass by agricultural producers and forestry professionals is to lite compacted biomass piles from the bottom. This results in conditions where poor air flow produces significant emissions of volatile organic compounds, air borne particulate material and a residue with limited value. Conservation burning is a practice in which Flame Carbonization takes place in an open burn pile, in a container, in a pit in the ground, or in a device with controlled air flow. The technique works because biomass burns in three stages: 1) dehydration; 2) release of volatile gasses that burn in a flame; and 3) solid combustion of the char. By interrupting the process after stage 2, the biochar can be retained. In this way emissions of volatile organic compounds and particulate matter can be reduced compared to the traditional disposal practice while producing a product useful as a soil amendment to reduce water and nutrient use and as a bulking agent in agriculture, as a feed supplement for ruminants that reduces enteric methane production and release, and as a soil remediation treatment to sorb and make bio-unavailable a range of toxic materials, including mercury, lead and zinc. It is anticipated that the main users of this practice will be farm managers, landowners and managers, forestry professionals, and their staffs.

The title and scope are in draft form and are under development within this ASTM Committee.


Developed by Subcommittee: D34.03

Committee: D34

Staff Manager: Brian Milewski

Work Item Status

Date Initiated: 10-11-2018

Technical Contact: Raul Dominguez

Item: 000