Biochar fragments shown at 500 times magnification.
Biochar as a soil amendment in agriculture
The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship is leading national collaborative research analysing the properties and potential of a variety of biochars to sequester carbon, reduce nitrous oxide emissions, and alter soil functions in order to improve plant productivity.
10 September 2010 | Updated 3 September 2013
Biochar is a solid charcoal-like material made during heating under low oxygen conditions in a process known as pyrolysis.
Biochar is resistant to biological break-down and has the potential to remain stable in soil for centuries.
Biochar offers potential as a soil amendment and can be used to improve various soil properties, including:
- Physical properties: water holding capacity and soil structure
- Chemical properties: pH buffering and the capacity to hold exchangeable cations
- Biological properties: microbial activity and carbon and nutrient cycling
CSIRO scientists have coordinated the development of national research programs designed to quantify variations in composition and impacts on soil processes.
Research has improved our understanding of how biochar interacts with soil, what the potential risks are, and provided information that will guide the development of a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology.