Biochar is a carbon rich compound, produced from a range of feedstocks, through heating under zero or low oxygen conditions and produced with the intention of application to soil (Verheijen et al. 2010). Biochar has been gaining increasing interest as a potential means of mitigating climate change while concurrently improving soil functioning. Much of the carbon in biochar is in a relatively recalcitrant form and so it cycles very slowly within the soil, particularly when compared to soil organic matter (SOM). The residence time of biochar in soils has been estimated to be in the range of hundreds to thousands of years (Kuzyakov et al. 2009), as opposed to SOM which has a mean residence time measured in decades at the most (Six and Jastrow 2002).
Results of the project will be disseminated in the form or peer review publications, reports and presentations at conferences and this website. Data will be made publically available to ensure transparency and aid in the production of syntheses and meta-analyses.
BASE will use information from an on-going field trail to allow identification of effects occurring following biochar application to soil in a semi-natural grassland. This information will them feed into hypothesis formation and underlying mechanisms will be investigated through the use of controlled micro and mesocosm experiments (see Figure above – click to enlarge).
Tess started her work in 2011 on the SABINE project started. She did her PhD on plant-soil feedback and above-belowground interactions in the plant species Jacobea vulgaris. Tess is now involved in elucidating the effects of biochar on interactions at a relevant ecological scale in time and space, and coordinating the measurements of plant and soil biota. Additional mesocosm experiments add detailed information on altered competition for nutrients , cycling and food webs. This project provides novel insights into the effects of biochar on ecosystems, and will contribute to the general awareness of the (hidden) ecological dimension of the bio-based economy. Read more →