A verified biochar-based solution for the reduction of cadmium uptake in Cacao

July 21, 2020 – 12:00 – 1:30 pm ET (US)

Food safety is critical to good health and well-being, one of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury in food are a growing concern as these can lead to increased risks for cancer, neurological and reproductive issues, compromised immune systems, and damage to kidneys, lungs, the liver and more. The source for these heavy metals in soils used to grow food or pasture animals is sometimes naturally occurring but often the cause is anthropogenic; smelting from mining, industrial wastewater mismanagement, coal-fired power plants to name just a few.

The European Union – the main export market for fine grade Peruvian cacao – recently established new limits for cadmium content in cacao (Regulation 488/2014, January 1, 2019).   Given high levels of cadmium in parts of Peru, this new regulation is having a strong negative impact on the Peruvian Cacao Industry including important social dimensions since cacao cultivation is generally performed by small scale farmers that constitute one of the most economically vulnerable segments of the Peruvian population.

To address the problem, a very large field trial in an already established Cacao orchard in the North of Peru (Piura) was undertaken with financial support from Innovate Peru.  In addition to testing biochar, a range of different potential remediation solutions were also trialled to give the experiment a comparative element.  The results demonstrate the superiority of biochar-based solutions.  Cost-effective applications of biochar can reduce cadmium uptake in cacao by 50-80%.  This in turn demonstrates that application of biochar at scale has the potential to reopen the European market to Peruvian cacao.   Dr. Brenton Ladd will discuss the progress toward achieving this larger goal and the implications for other crops impacted by metal toxicity.

COST: Free to IBI Members or $40 for non-members.

To Register:

IBI Members: Members may view the presentation slides and a recording by first logging into your membership accounts then proceed to either the Members’ Only website (scroll down to the ‘Upcoming Webinars’ section) or return to this page for the members access link to appear.

Non-IBI Members: Non-IBI members may view the slides and webinar recording for a $40 fee.  Click here for the payment link.

Brenton Mark Ladd

Brenton is on the Board of the International Biochar Initiative. He is also a research professor at the Universidad Cientifica del Sur in Lima, Peru.  Biochar has been a focus of his research since 2012 and he coordinated the south American component of the biochar 4 Sustainable Soils project.  His biochar research has focused heavily on the practicalities of production technologies and the development of biochar formulations that are optimized for addressing specific environmental challenges.

Kathleen Draper, Moderator

Kathleen is the Board Chair of the International Biochar Initiative. She is also the US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence. The Institute is an open source network focusing on beneficial carbon sequestration strategies which simultaneously provide economic development opportunities both in the developed and developing world. In 2020 she helped launch C-interest, a start-up focused on creating biochar based composite materials. She has written extensively about various topics related to biochar and is a co-author of the book “Terra Preta: How the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger” and “BURN: Using Fire to Cool the Earth”.


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For more information or if you have any questions about registration please email Caroline Peat at cpeat@ttcorp.com.

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