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Biochar: Potential for countering land degradation and for improving agriculture (AG, Volume 34, May 2012, Pages 21-28)

This study reviews biochar potential and problems and argues for adequate research before hasty application leads to environmental and socio-economic damage and discourages application.

Biochar is attracting attention as a means for sequestering carbon and as a potentially valuable input for agriculture to improve soil fertility, aid sustainable production and reduce contamination of streams and groundwater.

This study reviews biochar potential and problems and argues for adequate research before hasty application leads to environmental and socio-economic damage and discourages application. There is also a need for broad overview because research is conducted by a diversity of specialist fields including soil chemistry, archaeology, farming extension and so forth.

Research on biochar-rich Amazonian dark earths may help identify the best raw materials (feedstock) and ways for producing biochar for agricultural use and countering land degradation.

Highlights

- An assessment of the potential of biochar for agriculture and countering land degradation.

- Latin American dark earths may suggest ways to improve modern agriculture, but may be reduced if the ancient soils were enhanced with less accessible materials.

- Biochar adoption must consider social, economic and environmental issues.