Session 6: GHG

Biochar use for reducing GHG (N2O, CH4) emissions in soils, substrates and animal production

Early on it has been found, and has now been confirmed by meta-analysis, that biochar addition to soil can reduce N2O emissions, while the effects on CH4 fluxes (production and oxidation) are less clear. However, in field experiments the N2O-reducing effect is smaller and sometimes absent.

Despite nearly 10 years of research we still lack full mechanistic understanding and hence a chance to deliberately produce biochars for dedicated N2O emission reduction. Moreover it is still uncertain how long the N2O reduction effect persists, and if old, charcoal-(biochar-) rich and often humus-rich black soils do have an enhanced rather than reduced potential for N2O emission formation. Therefore section 6 aims at elucidating the mechanistic side of the effects of biochar on N2O and CH4 emission reduction, and to establish biochar systematics with regard to properties delivering the desired effects for GHG-reduced agriculture.
Session 6 aims at addressing the following topics:

1)     Mechanisms: A lot of potential mechanisms are discussed over and over again in the literature. Can some of them now be ruled out, are some definitely proven, what are the most likely current hypotheses?

2)     Implementation: How can we describe, test and predict N2O emission reduction with biochar depending on its properties?

3)     Future risks and challenges: Is there the danger of enhanced N2O formation or CH4 emission when using biochar in soils? Evidence and mechanistic understanding obtained from long-term analogs (Terra preta, charcoal-making sites, black carbon rich soils…) may elucidate the question.


Session lead:      Claudia Kammann, Geisenheim University, Germany, Jürgen Kern, Leibniz-Institute ATB Potsdam, Germany; Nele Ameloot, Ghent University, Belgium;

Keynote of the session: Nele Ameloot


N2O emission from biochar amended soils: clear reductions, unclear mechanisms

Content: In most cases bio-induced N2O emission reductions are substantial, however there is still a lack of fundamental understanding of the N2O production and consumption processes in biochar amended soils. This lecture will focus on the mechanisms involved  in biochar-induced N2O  emission reductions.

Dr. Nele Ameloot is a post-doc researcher at the Ghent University. Her research focuses on the effects of biochar on soil microorganisms and on N2O emission mechanisms.


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