- Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Biochar in forestry: Status in the Nordic-Baltic countries
Holt Hanssen, Kjersti; Bruckman, Viktor J.; Gundale, Michael; Indriksons, Aigars; Ingerslev, Morten; Kaivapalu, Marju; Lazdiņa, Dagnija; Makovskis, Kristaps; O’Toole, Adam; Ots, Katri; Palviainen, Marjo; Stokland, Jogeir; Varnagirytė-Kabašinskienė, Iveta
This report summarizes the status of biochar in forestry in the Nordic-Baltic countries today. Biochar is charred material formed by pyrolysis of organic materials. In addition to improving soil physical and chemical properties and plant growth, biochar is a promising negative emission technology for storing carbon (C) in soils. The report gives an overview of current and potential uses, production methods and facilities, legislation, current and future research as well as biochar properties and effects. Forests are both a source of feedstock for biochar production and a potential beneficiary for biochar use. Production is still limited in the Nordic-Baltic countries, but commercial production is on the rise and several enterprises are in the planning or start-up phase. In this report different biochar production technologies are described. As the (modern) use of biochar for agricultural and especially forestry purposes is relatively new, in many countries there are no specific legislation regulating its use. Sometimes the use of biochar is regulated through more general laws and regulations on e.g. fertilizers or soil amendment. However, both inside and outside EU several documents and standards exist, listing recommended physical and chemical limit values for biochar. So far, most biochar studies have been conducted on agricultural soils, though research in the forestry sector is starting to emerge. The first biochar field experiments in boreal forests support that wood biochar promotes tree growth. Also, studies on the use of biochar as an additive to the growing medium in tree nurseries show promising results. Because biochar C content is high, it is recalcitrant to decomposition, and application rates to soil can be high, biochar is a promising tool to enhance the C sequestration in boreal forests. However, available biomass and production costs may be barriers for the climate change mitigation potential of biochar. When it comes to effects on biodiversity, few field-based studies have been carried out. Some studies from the Nordic region show that biochar addition may affect microbial soil communities and vegetation, at least on a short time scale. There is clearly a need for more research on the effects of biochar in forestry in the Nordic-Baltic region. Long-term effects of biochar on e.g., forest growth, biodiversity, soil carbon and climate change mitigation potential should be studied in existing and new field experiments.
Biochar; biodiversity; carbon storage; fertilization; forest growth and yield; soil amendment
2023, number: 9(31)
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