DesignChar4food’s goal is to design biochar with characteristics that will improve soil fertility, increase soil carbon sequestration, and make nitrogen more available for plant uptake by reducing N entrapment and nitrous oxide formation. Developing collaborative research between United States and Europe will expedite guidelines for biochar production and soil use.
The objectives of DesignChar4food are:
- Conduct a meta-analysis of recent biochar literature and identify if biochars influence nitrous oxide formation and the biochar characteristics that influence N availability and denitrification.
- Design biochars with different parent feedstocks, pyrolysis temperatures, and biochar morphology to possess the characteristics required according to the meta-analysis information.
- Conduct laboratory experiments to determine the interaction of nitrogen and these designed biochars that regulates nitrogen availability (absorption, entrapment, etc.).
- Examine the influence of agricultural chemicals on nitrogen availability when biochar is co-applied.
- Develop an electronic program called “CHARnet” to facilitate collaboration and data sharing between team members and biochar stakeholders.
- The meta-analysis revealed a relationship between biochar and nitrous oxide emissions with about 40% of the studies observing a decrease in nitrous oxide formation following biochar application.
- Biochar characteristics (high C/N ratios, pore sizes, and air dried moisture content) were hypothesised to be indicators of its ability to trap N ions and reduce immediate N availability.
- A conflicting response of biochars ability to reduce nitrous oxide formation using specific chemical inhibitors to track microbial mechanistic pathways was observed.
- CHARnet was formed to facilitate communication, sharing equipment, and collaboration between scientists and additional collaborators from other countries.