Biochar offers farmers a new way to invest their land

Biochar offers farmers a new way to invest their land

We all know. More trees means more carbon dioxide2 removed from the atmosphere. Even airlines are trying to make flying more environmentally friendly in this way. For example, in 2018, KLM started the “One Ticket = One Tree” campaign. British airlines have also pledged to cut carbon emissions by 70% by 2050.

But in reality, planting trees alone is not enough. When trees and other plants are CO2 suck to grow, CO2 Re-enter the environment through its roots. Thus, it can be returned to the atmosphere. The challenge is to find a way to reduce carbon dioxide2 Pick it up and then store it in a way that doesn’t cause new problems.

One way to do this is by making biochar. Biochar is made by heating. Organic biomass is burned at a temperature of more than 350 ° C. C02, that may end up in the environment is included in the final product. Unlike biochar, biochar can be made from many different organic raw materials, including crop residue, manure, and wastewater residues. Biochar can then be buried and remain stable in the soil for hundreds of years.

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Professor Colin Snape from the University of Nottingham’s Department of Clean Fossil Energy said: “Planting trees to offset air travel, as airlines say, is a ‘greenwash.’ But to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it takes a lot of technology to offset that.”

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Snape is leading a $5.22 million project testing the feasibility of large-scale biochar production and incorporation on farmland. The hope is to find ways to produce biochar in a sustainable way. It must also not be harmful to the fields in which it is processed.

Make biochar and stay carbon neutral

Biochar is definitely not a new product. You can find it at most garden centers. It is used to improve the soil for plants. It is made from organic biomass and can be mixed directly with the soil. However, it is usually made in ovens for single use. Snape suggests local formulations that can produce massive amounts of biochar.

“With a modern and efficient process, you can make biochar while restoring heat and energy at the same time,” Snape explains. “40 percent of the biomass used in biochar can be burned, while the remaining 60 percent is converted into energy and exported.”

The biomass needed to make biochar may initially come from agricultural and forestry waste. This way, the waste doesn’t end up in the landfill. In the future, the solution may lie in harvesting trees and fast-growing crops for biochar production. Snape: “You just have to remove carbon at the same rate that it’s growing. You can’t cut down large areas of forest in North America these days.”

Paying farmers’ salaries

Burying biochar, also known as carbon sequestration, isn’t a new idea either. The unknown is where it should be buried and whether it will cause long-term damage. In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, most of the usable land is agricultural land. An important aspect of Project Snap is proving that it is secure. He hopes to convince farmers that their land is the best place to bury it. Persuasion in this case means paying them to test the concept.

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“Farmers get subsidies from the EU based on the size of the farm,” Snape says. “Now it is no longer a question of how big your company is, but what social benefit the country has.”

He sees a new opportunity in this approach for companies wanting to reduce carbon dioxide2– You want to offset the footprint, like airlines. If burial of biochar proves safe, airlines may be able to pay farmers to store biochar on their land. In this way, biochar can be made locally and more carbon dioxide2Emissions from transportation are avoided.

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