This project aims to tackle the growing environmental problem of soil degradation in Europe and its impact on climate change. Around 45% of soils in Europe have only low or very low levels of organic matter (0-2% of organic carbon) and 45% have a medium level (2-6% of organic carbon). This is resulting in a loss of soil fertility, carbon and biodiversity, lower water retention capacity and disruptions in gas and nutrient cycles. If the carbon absorption function of soil is impaired, even more carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere, further exacerbating the problems associated with climate change such as extreme patterns of weather.
The main project objective is to make effective use of biochar in the generation of humus. Biochar is a fertile black soil (also known as ‘terra preta’, Portuguese for ‘dark soil’) with a very high carbon content (at least 100% higher than the surrounding soil).
However, there is no biochar production facility available in Europe today and the first experiments have been done mainly with residues from charcoal production or in laboratory tests. This means that the long -term positive effects of biochar have not yet been demonstrated.