Main research question/goal
We investigate what aspects of soil quality (chemical, physical, biological) can be positively influenced by biochar addition. Biochar is a carbon-rich, charcoal-like product made during thermal breakdown of biomass under conditions of little or no oxygen (pyrolysis). International research, mainly from tropical weathered soils, shows that biochar can ameliorate soil quality and crop production. We investigate if biochar can also have positive effect in temperate regions such as Flanders.Research approach
With a field trial established seven countries including Belgium and diverse lab and pot experiments, we investigate the influence of different biochar types on the nitrogen cycle (isotope experiment), water content, soil biology, green house gas emissions and crop production. The tested biochars are made from wood species, maize or reed and are produced at several pyrolysis temperatures.Relevance/Valorisation
Maintaining the organic carbon content of arable soils is not easy. One of the reasons is that the fertilizer legislation limits the amount of organic fertilizers that can be applied. Another reason is the growing demand for biomass by the bio based economy is causing less organic residues to be left on the field. Biochar largely consists of stable carbon and can provide a solution to maintain or improve the organic carbon content of the soil. Due to its potential for long term carbon sequestration, biochar also presents a potential way to mitigate climate change.