Contracts and agreements
Project duration: 
Jan 2016 to Dec 2018

The overall aim of the project is to explore additional benefits of biochar in the soil nitrogen cycle regulation, either directly applied to soils or as fertilizer additive, in turn contributing to groundwater pollution and greenhouse gases mitigation and increasing the efficiency of fertilizers. 


The use of pyrolyzed biomass (biochar) as a soil amendment has been proposed as an environmental technology for climate change mitigation, the production of clean energy, as an alternative waste management option, and for the improvement of soil fertility. Previous results of our research team suggest soil nitrogen cycle regulation as an additional environmental benefit of biochar that could translate into benefits for crops, a reduced need for fertilizers, and the mitigation of groundwater pollution risk by nitrates. Similarly, the use of biochar as an additive for organic and mineral fertilizers might improve its efficiency.

The experiments will be carried out under laboratory and field conditions, in the last case, in agricultural plots established in 2011 by the application of a pine biochar, and continuously cropped with barley since then. In these plots the biochar effects on N partition in the soil-plant-microorganism-fauna system will be studied, with special interest in the impacts on microbial nitrogen cycle functional groups. The interacting effect of biochar aging in soil (5-7 years) on soil N cycle will be also assessed. The importance of type of biochar on N regulation, mostly explained by the feedstock biomass and pyrolysis technique used for its production, will be also studied. Finally, we will assess how the use of biochar as an ingredient for chemical and organic fertilizers could improve nitrogen absorption by plants while minimizing nitrate leaching risks.

  • Parcel·les experimentals en un sòl agrícola tractat amb biochar
  • El biocarbó (biochar) s'obte de restes de biomassa per un procès de pirolisi. S'incorpora al sòl en forma de grànuls o partícules fines com es veu a la imatge
  • Assaig de creixement vegetal a dosis creixents d'aplicació d'un biochar a un sòl agrícola