Social and financial benefits of biochar

Biochar.Thumb__optBiochar is a charred organic matter produced with the intent to deliberately apply to the soils to sequester carbon and improved soil properties. Charcoal and biochar are the same things but the difference is only in their utilitarian intention. However, unlike charcoal, which is often used for cooking, biochar made under certain conditions in order to be applied to soil as a means of soil fertility and agricultural productivity and carbon sequestration to stop global warming in growth

CLIMATE PLAYS an important role in our worlds environment that even small changes have impacts that are large and complex. Climate change impacts people and nature in numerous ways and it often enhances existing threats that have already put pressure on the environment. Its nearly intolerable to overstate the danger of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising more rapidly than expected and the world is warming more rapidly in response. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to significantly reduce global warming emissions and if possible remove existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The aim is to bring global warming under control by limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. According to researchers, there are confirmations that adding so-called “biochar” to soil could benefit agriculture and continuously remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Biochar is a charred organic matter produced with the intent to deliberately apply to the soils to sequester carbon and improved soil properties. Charcoal and biochar are the same things but the difference is only in their utilitarian intention. However, unlike charcoal, which is often used for cooking, biochar made under certain conditions in order to be applied to soil as a means of soil fertility and agricultural productivity and carbon sequestration to stop global warming in growth.

Biochar is a highly porous, stable and C-rich product of an energy generation process called pyrolysis. Wherein C-rich biomass materials undergo thermal decomposition at relatively moderate temperatures (300-700°C) in oxygen free or oxygen limited environment. It is claimed that biochar has the potential to help mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration.

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Furthermore, biochar can soil fertility, agricultural productivity and enhance resistance against some foliar and soil-borne diseases. Moreover, biochar increases soil fertility, agricultural productivity and increases resistance to some leaves and soil-borne diseases. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon and can sustain in soil for thousands of years. Sustainable biochar application is a simple tool to resolve some of the most urgent environmental problems of our time:

Biochar as a soil amendment:

It is commonly observed that plant growth significantly enhanced when fertilizers are applied with the association of biochar. Resultantly, plant gives more yield fertilizer additions plus biochar, in contrast to the fertilizer additives alone.

Different scientists approved the benefits of biochar as an agricultural soil amendment. Biochar improves both physical and chemical properties of soil. It is effective in significantly enhancing soil carbon, organic matter content, available and exchangeable potassium, CEC, and pH on a relatively short timescale. Biochar helps in lowering the bulk density of high clay soils, increasing drainage, improving aeration and facilitate for better root penetration because it is comparatively low density porous material. Nutrient holding capacity of soil is improved by the application of biochar and ultimately it also increases the water holding capacity of soil. Biochar decreasing the need for liming materials because we know that biochar is a liming agent that will help to set off the acidifying effects of N fertilizers. Biochar is an excellent absorbent and it reduces the leaching losses of plant nutrients and agricultural chemicals because it increases the soil holding capacity of these compounds.

One hope for biochar is for increased global food production while permanently enhancing soil.

We cannot get more arable land, but we can make it better!

Biochar to mitigate climate change:

The natural balance of the earth has always included carbon storage in the plants and soil. The problem is that we have disrupted this balance. We burned a lot of carbon in one century that nature sequestered over millions of years. Coal is almost pure carbon, collected by plants and sequestered by natural processes. We need to stop burning it!

Carbon bind in biochar has resistance against degradation and can hold carbon in the soil for hundreds to thousands of years. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer, the system can become “carbon negative.” Biochar also enhances soil fertility, improving plant growth, which consumes more CO2 in a feedback effect. Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help combat global climate change by shifting from fossil fuel use and carbon sequestration into stable soil carbon compounds. It can also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide. Additional benefits from adding biochar to soil can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon storage in soil. These include:

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l   Biochar reduces the requirement for fertilizer as a result there is less emissions from fertilizer production units.

l   Biochar enhances soil microbial life, which leads to more carbon storage in soil.

l   Because biochar bound the nitrogenous compounds, therefore, release of nitric oxide (a potent greenhouse gas) can be reduced.

l   By converting agricultural waste into biochar, it reduce methane gas (a potent greenhouse gas) usually generated by the natural decomposition of waste materials.

By using this simple and powerful technology, we store about 2.2 gigatons of carbon per year by 2050. It is one of the feasible technology which is comparatively economical, extensively applicable and rapidly scalable. We really cant afford not to pursue it.

Biochar to manage wastes:

For managing agricultural wastes biochar production is a simple and sustainable tool. Biochar production is only a key approach that can simultaneously play an important role in waste management, bio-energy production and it also ensure the sustainable land management. By managing agricultural crop and animal wastes environmental pollution also increase specially by contaminating surface and ground water bodies. These wastes and other byproducts are usable resources and can be used for pyrolysis bioenergy. Not only power that can be achieved in the combustion process, but the volume and particularly weight of waste material is greatly reduced, which is an important aspect. Mitigation of climate change is also indirectly influenced by proper management of organic wastes.

Biochar influence the climate in different ways i.e.

l   reducing methane emissions from landfill

l   energy use in industries decrease and emissions due to recycling of waste also reduce

l   recover energy from waste materials

l   improve C sequestration in forests

l   reduce energy use in long-distance transport of waste materials

Biochar to produce energy:

Indirectly biochar is a clean and renewable source of energy by the production of different byproducts like oil and gas which can be used as fuel. All of the emissions (better known as air pollution and greenhouse gases) which are linked with burning biomass are captured and condensed into liquid fuels like bio-oil, industrial chemicals, or syngas (synthetic gas). These products can be stored for future use at the production facility or used on-site as part of the process for energy production. Therefore, concept of biochar production is very effective in producing power as well as proposing environmental solutions. Indeed, future demand of green energy may be secured by biochar production. Though, it will most likely not be able to solve the energy crises and fulfill increasing global demand for energy on its own. It also expands the options for the type of biomass that can be used to produce energy, which goes beyond wood include different type of organic waste such as crop residues. A major advantage that pyrolysis can provide clean heat required to develop cooking technology with lesser indoor air pollution as usual smoke produced during combustion of biomass.

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Adoption of biochar for environmental management:

Adopting biochar-based strategies for energy production, soil management and C sequestration mainly depend on individual companies, municipalities and farmers. But national governments and international organizations can play a critical role by facilitating the process of technological development, especially in the initial stages of research and development. Although biochar has great potential to become a critical intervention in addressing key challenges of the future, it is best seen as an important wedge contributing to an overall portfolio of strategies for climate change. Such an approach not only applies to global warming, but also to large scale efforts to ensure food security for many people around the world, to produce energy and to improve waste management.

More information must be established, and several such challenges to be addressed. But the tasks ahead are of such magnitudes that they can be resolved with the implementation. In fact, biochar research requires working under conditions of economically viable enterprises in order to investigate the processes at the scale at which they are to be implemented. Much has already been achieved and the basic information on which biochar for environmental management rests is available.

The writers are associated with Agro Climatology Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

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