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Carbon Dioxide Used To Increase Orchard Yields
Can you double or even triple yields by swamping orchard crops with CO2? Brian Kolodji may have the way to do it. He floods orchards with diluted CO2, several times higher than that in ambient air, and keeps it there for extended periods.
Researchers and greenhouse growers have long shown high levels of CO2 can boost yields, sequester carbon and improve water use efficiency in crops by 10 percent. Kolodji’s simple process lowers costs by a factor of 20.
In addition to reduced costs, Kolodji hopes to match or exceed results from a previous 17-year FACE study with CO2 in citrus. It demonstrated a 70 percent increase in yield on average.
“If you took out the first 6 years when the new trees were maturing, the yield increase was 100 to 200 percent,” says Kolodji.
He notes that the citrus research was at a low level of enrichment, only 550 parts per million (ppm) versus CO2 levels in ambient air of 400 ppm. He has delivered as much as 1,500 ppm for 8 hrs. in multiple trees.
“We’ve proven it can be done and more cost-effectively than ever before,” says Kolodji. “Our process brings the cost down to less than $1,000 per acre, compared to the $2 to $3 million an acre cost in the citrus study. Eventually, I expect to lower it to less than $500.”
Kolodji has multiple patents on the process, but his prototype system installed in a California almond orchard is seemingly simple. Exhaust from a propane generator and several vehicles is collected and fans funnel it through a system of ducts. The cooling system uses water from a children’s pool, a pump, a sprinkler and a condenser. Flexible tubes distribute the CO2 into the tree canopy.
Passing the CO2 through the water vapor cools the hot exhaust gas down to 80 degrees. The condensation process also takes water out of the flue gas. This raises the molecular weight of CO2 above that of air. When distributed around trees, the heavier CO2 displaces the air, and the multiple distribution points reduce the velocity of the gas.
“The trees act as baffles, reducing air movement, and the distribution reduces the velocity of the gas,” says Kolodji. “We point it into the trees where it hovers and then slumps to the ground for extended periods.”
While the system has been shown to work, application of the CO2 has not been consistent enough to prove yields. The next step is to utilize flue gas from a refinery across the street from the orchard. Currently, the refinery sends up to 200,000 tons of CO2 up its stacks each year.
“We propose to use the flue gas in the orchard,” says Kolodji. “We could use it to feed CO2 to 1,000 acres.”
Initial work on the project was financed in part with a $100,000 grant from the state of California. Kolodji is seeking additional funding to access the refinery’s exhaust and prove increased yields with his system.
“If we could get CO2 from refineries, we could swamp our orchards,” he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brian Kolodji, 8200 N. Laurelglen Blvd. #1408, Bakersfield, Calif. 93311 (ph 713-907-8742; bkolodji@sbcglobal.net). Photo Credit: Bakersfield Californian and Eliza Green

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6