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).
My main interest lies in the functional ecology of terrestrial systems and how the soil and its biota drive the vast array of ecosystem functions and services which are vital for life on Earth. Organisms do not function in isolation but rather the myriad processes and functions which they drive are a consequence of the interactions and feedbacks between different parts of the community and their environment. I am interested in the use of inter and multi-disciplinary techniques to try to gain a mechanistic understanding of such processes and functions and the services which they support. Read more →