The Potential and Promise of Biochar for Sustainable Soil Productivity and Crop Production

The Potential and Promise of Biochar for Sustainable Soil Productivity and Crop Production

*1Fagbenro, J.A., 2B.T. Salami, 3S.O. Oshunsanya and 4E.A, Aduayi
1,2 & 4 Department of Crop Production, Soil and Environmental Management,
Bowen University, PMB 284, Iwo, Osun State, Nigeria.
3Department of Agronomy,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
*Corresponding author:; Phone No: 08034827270

Accepted on May 02, 2012


Biochar is the carbon-rich solid product resulting from the heating of biomass in an oxygen-limited environment. Due to its highly aromatic structure, it is chemically and biologically more stable compared with the organic material from which it is made. This paper reviews selected pioneering research works done outside Nigeria on the properties and effects of biochars on soil, plant and environment. The review indicates that when biochar is incorporated into the soil, it can, among other things, increase available nutrients and prevent their leaching, stimulate activity of agriculturally important soil micro-organisms, act as effective carbon sink for several hundred years, displace or greatly reduce requirement for mineral fertilizers, sequester atmospheric CO2 in the soil, suppress emissions of other greenhouse gases (GHGs), eliminate the inefficient slash-and-burn fallow form of agriculture and mitigate off-set effects from agrochemicals. The paper notes that the manifold benefits of biochar technology are anecdotal in Nigeria. It therefore emphasizes the need to initiate systematic biochar research work in the country. The paper concludes by reporting on the research effort being made at Bowen University at producing biochars from different feedstocks and at characterizing them with a view to assessing them for their agronomic effects.

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