Biochar is a stable, long lived, charcoal-like product from the burning of biomass in the absence of oxygen (pyrolysis). Biochar is carbon-rich and can be spread on farmland, potentially storing carbon in the soil for an extended period. Biochar could therefore contribute to Greenhouse Gas Removal targets, which the Climate Change Committee estimates will need to reach 28-35 million tonnes of CO2 removal each year from land sinks to achieve net zero. Biochar may also improve soil quality and water retention, but there are significant challenges to overcome.

About the project

This interdisciplinary project will address the uncertainties concerning the extent and scope of deployment of biochar, including its stability with respect to carbon sequestration, together with quantifying effects on soil health and ecosystem services, economic viability and social acceptability. Field trials will take place at arable and grassland sites in the Midlands and Wales, an open cast coal mine site in Cumbria, denuded railway embankments, and forestry sites in England and Wales.

Project lead: Professor Colin Snape, University of Nottingham
Contact: Dr Genevieve Hodgins,

Research team: Universities of Nottingham, Leeds and Bangor, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Forest Research, and the Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre

Find out more about the Biochar Demonstrator