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22682A strong new review paper on forest biochar

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  • Ronal W. Larson
    Jan 2 11:31 AM
    List:   cc Prof. Hailong

    1.  This to strongly recommend this forest-biochar-review article:
    "Effects of biochar application in forest ecosystems on soil properties and greenhouse gas emissions: a review”
         Yongfu Li & Shuaidong Hu & Junhui Chen & Karin Müller & Yongchun Li & Weijun Fu & Ziwen Lin & Hailong W
        Journal of Soils and Sediments https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-017-1906-y

    It is the best review I have seen on biochar in a forest context, but there is plenty of information for all biochar researchers.  Out less than a week.  Is available to many via Researchgate.

    2.  The following is a graphical outline of the article, which is about 18 pages long, with about 200 cites.  Each of the 21 boxes in this figure is a subsection (3.1 is on porosity and absorption, and 6.3 is on N2O.

    3.   The final section 7 introduces 7 additional topic areas needing effort (and presumably coming in future papers from these researchers.   Can anyone suggest other biochar analysis topics that are not contained in (now) 28 topical areas?
    1. microbial functions
    2. soil respiration components
    3. new fertilizers
    4. different tree species.
    5. long-term effects
    6. cost-benefit analysis
    7. ecotoxicological effects

    4.   Here is their 6th (where my interests lie):
    6. Assessing costs and benefits of biochar applications is complicated. Considering only the nutrient value of biochar, the costs of biochar applications exceed those of fertilizer applications. But as outlined in this review, biochar applications have many additional benefits including the improvement of soil properties and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, long-term chemical fertilization has negative effects on soil properties and carbon sequestration. However, as far as we know, no cost-benefit analysis for biochar application in forest ecosystems has been conducted yet. Prior to promoting fieldscale applications of biochar in forest ecosystems, a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of biochar application in forest ecosystems is required.

    5.    I hope this #6 is one thrust of their present ongoing work.  A cost-benefit analysis for forest biochar especially needs to account for the present high and growing costs of fighting forest fires  and the large annual input of valuable previously sequestered CO2.  Converting excess biomass from unhealthy forests to biochar seems intuitively cost-effective, but we need proof, and this newly released report helps point the way.  

    6.  I hope someone is doing something similar for pastures - another huge land area similarly ignored in the many conservative sequestration projections that limit biochar input to ag residues.

    7.  Editorial (with apologies):   I guesstimate that about 25-30% of the 200 cites are by Chinese authors (all of the 25 from “wu” to “Zhou”).  I emphasize this to help researchers in other countries justify comparable funding.   My guess is that the Chinese biochar funding must be two or three orders of magnitude larger than that in the US (and the slope isn’t likely to improve in the US for three more years).   It now seems clear that the Chinese have taken over the biochar world as they did wind and solar.  
    And most of the geoengineering world has no clue on this strong Chinese biochar activity (although I am pretty sure soil scientists do) .   The sold-out successful October Climate Engineering Conference in Berlin had about 200 attendees;  I think there were three from China - (pretty obvious from the affiliations that) none were working on biochar.  And that conference basically panned biochar.   
     So this is a note of congratulations to China, Professor Hailong, and his co-authors on a very nice, well-researched review.


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