Workshop Report SiNor Biochar Workshop 2023

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Exploring opportunities of biochar in agriculture for climate stabilization and food security in China and beyond

–Report of SiNor Biochar Workshop 2023

Sponsored by the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy (NIBIO) and the Nanjing Agricultural University, and co-sponsored by the Soil Health commission of the International Science Committee of Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), the SiNor Biochar Workshop 2023 was held in the Nanjing International Conference Hotel during June 7-10, 2023. As a joint activity of the SinoGrain II project, the collaborators from NIBIO and the Chinese partners participated the workshop. Besides, over 40 scientists including early career young scientist from Chinese universities and agricultural research institutions including China Agricultural University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences as well as the Nanjing Agricultural University. A number of international scientists from Australia, Germany, Russia, Denmark and Laos attended the workshop. In particular, a total of 18 peoples from Chinese enterprises of biochar production and application agriculture attended the 2-day workshop. 

Focusing on the potentials of biochar production and application in waste treatment, soil enhancement, agricultural production and climate change mitigation of agricultural sector, the workshop included 1 day presentations of research and technical progress and 1 day field excursion to a biochar based farm nearby Nanjing. Totally there were 27 presentations, covering the biochar in food production, biochar and soil health, biochar and waste management as well as biochar-based fertilizers. Dr Kuzayakov gave a holistic review on soil heath in biological perspective, Dr J. Chen from Denmark highlighted soil enzyme activity assessment for soil health and C cycling, and Dr Joseph from Australia overviewed the scientific understanding of biochar’s effect on plant roots and metabolism beyond carbon. There were some new evidences of biochar induced inorganic carbon dynamics, of legacy of soil C stability and structure improvement with long persistent pyrogenic carbon, and of the linkage of chemo-diversity and pore-diversity and bio-diversity to soil health in biochar amended soils. All these changes could be associated to feedstock and pyrolysis condition of biochar used. 

The participants visited the biochar based farm in Zhishan Village, Lishui Distrcit, Nanjing on June 9, 2023. The participants had an access to a biochar factory where the waste from the farm treated with biochar and biochar based organic amendments and fertilizers produced to serve the farming. In the farm, the swine manure was co-composted with biochar from rice husk, produced via rice grain processing, to manufacture organic fertilizer and rice seedling nursery. The participants noted a number of novel brands of biochar blended fertilizers available in China’s market were also displayed in the biochar factory, which were jointly innovated by the Nanjing Agricultural University biochar team in cooperation with the key biochar enterprises. Moreover, the workshop participants visited the farmlands and food produced with the biochar-based farming technology, biochar amendments for soil enhancement, biochar compound fertilizer for plant growth and biochar-based liquid for plant conditioning. As a courtesy, the farm provided an onsite test of the healthy foods produced with the biochar-based farming. Finally, the scientists and engineers had an open exchange on issues of biochar production and application in agriculture and rural development. 

As the main out-comings of the workshop, the presentations and exchanges arrived in some key understandings, as follows. Biochar production and application could constitute an emerging sector of bioeconomy for rural developments facing the global pressures. It could have the great potential to close the loop of waste management, soil carbon sequestration and food production, to integrate soil health- plant health-food health into One Common Health, and to connect bioenergy-biochar and bio-health approaches in food production and human well being in rural areas.     

Thanks to the support by the Norwegian Embassy in Beijing, the funding from the State Ministry of Education, the workshop was a new success in biochar science and technology exchange organized by the Nanjing Agricultural University. The past events included the Biochar and Green Agriculture Workshops respectively in 2012 and 2015, the China-ASEAN training courses on Biochar for Green Agriculture respectively in 2016 and 2017, and the Workshop on Biochar for Green Development in 2019. The host looks forward to more future exchanges on biochar and agriculture, with the demonstration of available biochar production and application in green farming.

Genxing Pan (

Picture 1. The workshop participants group photo.    

Picture 2 The meeting audience to the presentation and the exchange/interaction.

Picture 3. The participants in the biochar factory and biochar based farm nearby Nanjing. 

(Upper left, biochar co-compost of swine manure; Upper right, How good is it? -biochar compost. Bottom left, Dr Kuzyakov is explain biochars’ functions in the front of a pyrolysis kiln; Bottom right, Dr Pan is explaining the biochar effects on soil health)