The term 'biochar' refers to black carbon formed by the pyrolysis of biomass i.e. by heating biomass in an oxygen-free or low oxygen environment such that it does not (or only partially) combusts. Traditional charcoal is one example of biochar produced from wood. The term 'biochar' is much broader than this however, encompassing black carbon produced from any biomass feedstock. The use of biochar as a soil additive has been proposed as a means to simultaneously mitigate anthropogenic climate change whilst improving agricultural soil fertility. This paper provides a review of what is known about both of these claims and also about the wider environmental implications of the adoption of this process. The intention of this review is not just to summarise current knowledge of the subject, but also to identify gaps in knowledge that require further research
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