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Biochar: Combining carbon sequestration, soil improvement and energy supply What moves practitioners

The production of biochar from regionally available residual and waste materials through pyrolysis is a promising climate mitigation technology in the agricultural sector. If biochar is applied to agricultural land, it can sequester carbon in the soil in the long term. Also, it can improve the water storage capacity and nutrient availability of the soil if it is previously charged with nutrients. In many places, pyrolysis plants are already being set up or in operation. This can help to close material cycles and also to provide energy. What moves the players in this phase of product and market development? What empirical experiences are there, and where are the levers and obstacles for the further spread of biochar?

In the research project "Landgewinn", the authors adressed these questions in an online-discussion. Participants were various actors with biochar knowledge: a manufacturer and operator of pyrolysis systems, a project planner for biochar projects, several representatives from the areas of processing and sales of biochar as well as agricultural consultancy participated in the discussion, plus agricultural appliers, actors from research and a representative of an association.

The info sheet presents the perspectives of these actors on biochar. The overview makes it clear: In order to convince actors in the agricultural sector, as well as politicians and society of the relevance of biochar, the economic and ecological potential should be shown more prominently. If during the planning phase of pyrolysis systems, the supply of biochar and energy is well-matched to the demand, there will be benefits for the society and the environment. In order to professionalize the processes along the value chain, further scientific data, for example on the long-term effects of biochar in soils, must be made available. In addition, uniform legal requirements are required for the manufacture of pyrolysis systems and the quality of biochar.

The info sheet also provides background information on the technology, the potential, and possible operating models for the production and application of biochar. This information shows decision-makers in politics and practice obstacles and possible solutions, and offers orientation for the future design of framework conditions for the further dissemination of biochar.

Further information on the project, see also (in German only).