Environmental Laboratory

  • Soil monitoring programme suggests climate change initiative

Soil monitoring programme suggests climate change initiative

Nov 20 2009 Read 2596 Times

A research programme established to monitor the levels of biochar in soil has found that the material could be used as a means of storing carbon.

The UK Biochar Research Centre set up by Edinburgh University is testing theories surrounding the use of biochar as a sustainable carbon-storage option.

Biochar is produced by heating biomass in a low-oxygen environment to release a form of bioenergy.

Scientists believe that its unique porous structure could potentially enhance soil quality and agricultural production, in addition to playing a key role in sustainable energy production and carbon capture.

The Farmers Guardian reported on a research meeting where one of the researchers involved in the project, Dr Saran Sohi, explained the implications of the group's study.

He said: "Soil contains over three times more carbon than the atmosphere and nearly five times more than plants and animals produce.

"If biochar is incorporated into farmland, it can increase the soil's carbon content permanently and would establish a carbon store for atmospheric carbon dioxide."

Dr Sohi added that this would improve and maintain soil fertility. Research in this area has already found that the addition of biochar to soil increases crop productivity and water retention.

A further advantage is that improvements in soil quality would reduce the need for fertilisers. It is argued that CO2 emissions could be significantly reduced if fertiliser production was cut back due to the carbon-intensive nature of the process.

Posted by Lauren Steadman
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