Biochar research

​​Biochar is a stable type of char made by heating organic materials, such as wood or crop waste, in a low oxygen environment. It can be added to soil to sequester carbon and therefore has the potential to help mitigate Australia‘s greenhouse gas emissions while benefiting agricultural production by improving soil health.

Biochar research undertaken through the Climate Change Research Program targeted gaps in our understanding of this emerging technology and addressed uncertainties about its use.

Some key findings

  • Characterisation of more than 80 different biochars has shown that the production temperature and the type of material that it is produced from are the most important determinants of biochar properties.
  • Some biochars provide more agronomic benefits (like enhanced crop yields), while others are better for sequestering carbon.
  • It is now possible to advise which feedstock and production temperatures are necessary to either maximise carbon sequestration or agricultural benefit.
  • There are some types of biochars with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from soil under certain conditions.

A technical summary highlighting the key findings on biochar research through the Climate Change Research Program is provided below:

Fact sheets, case studies and DVD’s providing an overview the Climate Change Research Program and a summary of the research outcomes and are available.

The $2 million Biochar Capacity Building Program is building on research undertaken through the Climate Change Research Program to answer key questions about the use of biochar in Australia.

Further information about biochar can be found in the CSIRO report Biochar, climate change and soil carbon: A review to guide future research.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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