This is one of the projects that have actively supported the initiation of the Nordic Biochar Network. It is still ongoing and as an international project with a focus on the use of biochar as soil amendment, fits well to the objectives of the network.
In the last decade, large quantities of pure biochar have been tested as soil amendment obtaining encouraging results. But the high costs prevent many farmers to try and implement the method. It has been shown that small quantities of biochar can be used as a carrier substance for fertilizer. Low dosage root application can lead to a significant increase in crop yield. Biochar reduced N-fertilizer induced N2O emissions. In order for biochar-based fertilizers to have practical relevance, they need to have economic benefits. This is especially the case for special crop cultures, tree nurseries and city trees. For example, it costs several thousand € to replace a city tree, so avoiding tree death has immediate economic benefits. Furthermore, biochar use is one of the few ready-to-go negative-emission technologies (NETs) available.
The goal of the procect ABC4Soil (Advanced biochar-based fertilizers for multiple ecological benefits in soil conditioning) is to contribute to developing efficient fertilizers based on biochar that is made from locally available residue materials. The fertilizer shall supplement or replave mineral fertilizer, is expected to increase crop yield and can be used in organic farming. In addition to the environmental benefits, it offers economic chances for farmers as the dependency on commercial fertilizers is decreased and local low value feedstocks and wastes are used for the production. This process will be designed such that it can be carried out directly on-site at farm level, eliminating the need for long-distance transportation.
Biochar will be produced from residues (e.g. straw and wood waste) using several slow pyrolysis reactors. Soaking the char in liquid biomass residues such as manure will increase their nutrient content and produce a fertilizer. The effect of this fertilizer will be tested in field trials both in Germany and Norway. The tests in Germany will focus on growing annual food crops on small-scale farms, whereas the trials in Norway will work with biochar application to enhance tree growth in forests and cities. An economic assessment and life cycle analysis with a focus on the CO2 balance will be used to quantify environmental benefits. Results will be disseminated to the scientific community in relevant journals and on conferences, but most importantly to interested end-users and policy makers in workshops where practical guidance is given.
Name: ABC4Soil – Advanced biochar based fertilizers for multiple ecological benefits in soil conditioning
Partners: SINTEF Energy Research, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, RWTH Aachen, Hochschule Geisenheim University, Ithaka Institute of Carbon Intelligence
Duration: April 2018 – December 2021
Total Budget: ca. 1 000 000 EUR
Funding Framework: FACCE SURPLUS