Prospects and Consequences of Biochar
Biochar has many enthusiasts who hail it as a long-term solution to soil depletion and carbon emissions. Biochar boosts soil productivity, improves soil fertility, and can sequester carbon from the atmosphere, while its production process is one of the more sustainable bio-fuel production processes. There are many approaches to producing biochar being explored, from using the heat produced by the biomass itself, to industrial-scale microwaves, to low-tech charcoal-making cook-stoves. Yet many air on the side of caution, arguing biochar use could have unintended consequences. Many fear that biochar plantations will result in enormous land-use change issues, and that estimates of its carbon-sequestration benefit may be overblown. All agree, much more research needs to be done to determine the full extent of benefits that can be derived from biochar, and how to avoid any possible consequences.