File - Richmond Landcare

Report
“Biochar,” a bit of myth busting
Lukas Van Zwieten
Principal Research Scientist
Adjunct Professor, Rural Climate Solutions
University of New England
and
Tony Walker
Richmond Landcare
What is biochar and how is it made?
Biochar and Terra Preta
Downie, AE., Van Zwieten, L., Smernik RJ., Morris, S., Munroe, PR (2011) Terra Preta Australis:
Reassessing the carbon storage capacity of temperate soils. Agriculture Ecosystems Environment 140, 137147.
Pyrolysis is an engineering term
“energy and biochar can be produced”
Why pyrolyse biomass






Biosecurity
Odour
Concentration of C and nutrients
Transport costs
Beneficial agricultural reuse
Renewable energy
Biochar is carbon that is going to last
for hundreds of years
A
Biomass carbon
100%
Energy
Production
Bio-char carbon
50%
Biomass carbon
100%
100 years
Biomass carbon
0%
Bio-char carbon
>40%
Diagram source: Lehmann et al., 2006, Mitigation and
Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Agronomic trials
Over 350 plots being managed as part of the Richmond Landcare
collaborative project
Key soil constraints on ferrosols





Declining C
Immobilisation of P
Low pH
High Al saturation
Low CEC
Biochar “can” significantly improve soil fertility
and crop production
1900mm
1200mm
Control corn (13t cob/ha)
Poultry litter biochar, 50t/Ha (35t cob/ha)
Long-term field sites testing biochar
Trials in a macadamia orchard
45 trees used testing poultry litter char and
greenwaste char (@10t/ha- 40kg per tree)
2 years on
Trials in coffee
2 years on
3.3kg per tree, 30 trees per block, 4 treatments, 4
replicates, testing poultry biochar and rice husk
biochar
Sections of x-ray computed tomography scans of a vertosol
soil, packed into tubes of ~ 30 mm, at a resolution of 70 µm
control
1% biochar
P Quin (PhD student) and I Young
5% biochar
Summary of effects of some biochars in some soils
Properties of biochar
Soil and crop outcomes




• Increases in nutrient use efficiency
allowing reduced fertiliser inputs
• Improved water use efficiency
• Reduced leaching and gaseous losses
of fertiliser
• Reduced denitrification
• Lowered Al toxicity
• Reduced heavy metal bioavailability
• Increased P availability on P sorbing
soils
• Improved mycorrhizae and biological N2
fixation
• Long-term accumulation of soil C




Nutrients
Stable C content
Liming effect
Reactive surfaces and
redox
CEC and AEC
Porosity/ water holding
capacity and bulk density
Porosity / microbial habitat
Smoke chemicals?
Myth Busting
 Not all biochars will be valuable
 Biochars may not be beneficial in all soil types
 Value of the crop will limit application of biochar- and
bottom line
 Biochar certification is coming
More myth busting
 Understand biochar characteristics to ameliorate soil
constraints
 Farming system impacts the way biochar works: Possible C
accumulation under permanent pasture, but tillage and
biomass removal under cropping can still result in a decline
in C
 Biochar can particularly target chemical constraints in
ferrosols including low pH, high Al availability and low P
availability
 Biochars with high mineral ash component are more
effective at improving crop production
 Biochars with high C content are more effective at
accumulating additional C in soil

similar documents