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Agriculture

Published on January 16th, 2009 | by Amiel Blajchman

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Biochar: A Soil Additive that Fights Global Warming

January 16th, 2009 by  


Biochar

Biochar. It’s been around for a little while, but is only beginning to gain traction in climate change and global warming circles for its carbon negative properties. Biochar is a charcoal soil additive that is created through the “thermal treatment” (burning) of biomass residues such as rice and peanut shells, tree bark, sludge from paper mills, and other organics.

How does it all work? During the production process, carbon contained within the biomass residues is captured as biochar and as energy (which is used as heat, power or both). The biochar itself is then used as a soil additive. Since the biochar itself is inert, it is not consumed by any organisms and is considered to act as a carbon sink (no less than the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has identified biochar as a carbon sink).

As a soil additive, biochar has been demonstrated to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and water and soil retention in marginal soil quality.

Photo Credit: The International Biochar Initiative

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About the Author

Amiel is the founder of the Globalis Group, an organization whose motto is "combining action and thought for a sustainable world." His experience includes working with the Canadian government on greenspace projects, sustainable development programs and on policy documents on issues as diverse as climate change, sustainable development, and the environmental and social impacts of transportation. He is listed on the UN’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory’s list of GHG experts, and has sat on the Canadian Environmental Certifications Board’s Greenhouse Gas Verification and Validation Certification committee.



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