Biochar in soil for climate change mitigation and adaption

David Waters, Lukas Van Zwieten, Bhupinder Pal Singh, Adriana Downie, Annette L. Cowie, Johannes Lehmann

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Global environmental change, including land degradation, loss of biodiversity, changes in hydrology and changes in climate patterns resulting from enhanced anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases, will have serious consequences for world food security, particularly affecting the more vulnerable socio-economic sectors (Ericksen et al. 2009; Lal 2010). The World Bank suggests that at least a doubling of cereal yields and a 75% increase in meat production by 2030 are required to maintain the current level of nutrition globally (Fresco 2009). This poses a quandary. To significantly increase food production when large areas of agricultural lands will be adversely affected by climate change or converted into forestry for C sinks may not be possible unless new technologies and sustainable practices are rapidly adopted. The application of biochar to agricultural soils may play a crucial role in global climate change mitigation through the reduction of greenhouse gas production and the sequestering of atmospheric carbon in soils (Gaunt and Cowie 2009; Lehmann 2007; McCarl et al. 2009; McHenry 2009; Read2009). The agronomic benefits of biochar in soils (Chan et al. 2007; Steiner et al.2008a, b) could assist in the adaptation of agriculture to meet rising demands for food and fibre. Furthermore, improving soil health with biochar application may increase resilience of agricultural systems and enable the continuation of farming on marginal lands. Application of biochar to soil has been shown to have many advantages including enhanced soil health characteristics, reduced metal contamination risks and consequently increased plant growth (Chan et al. 2007; Namgayet al. 2010; Reichenauer et al. 2009); as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions from soil (Singh et al. 2010a; Van Zwieten et al. 2009; Yanai et al. 2007).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSoil health and climate change
    EditorsBhupinder Pal Singh, K. Yin Chan, Annette L. Cowie
    Place of PublicationHeidelberg
    PublisherSpringer-Verlag London Ltd.
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)9783642202568
    ISBN (Print)9783642202551
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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