Ancient Amazon Indians 'Biochar' Suppresses Nitrous Oxide from Cattle

GreenTracker| In early 2010 scientists reported that ‘biochar’ — a material that the Amazonian Indians used to improve soil fertility centuries ago — might be an asset in the fight against global warming. Biochar as charcoal can be produced by heating wood, grass, cornstalks or other organic matter in the absence of oxygen.

This month scientists in New Zealand report that using biochar in the soil could be used to supress nitrous oxide from livestock. Over a period of 86 days biochar effectively suppressed the nitrous oxide patches produced by cattle urine by 70%. The researchers say the addition of biochar into the soil left no detrimental effects.

Arezoo Taghizadeh-Toosi who conducted the study, says that under the highest rate of biochar, ammonia formation and its subsequent adsorption onto or into the biochar, reduced the inorganic-nitrogen pool available for nitrifiers and thus nitrate concentrations were reduced. Such effects would have diminished the substrate available for microbial nitrous oxide production.”

The study will continue to determine seasonal effects — New Zealand is heading into winter now — and also the effects of continuous urine deposition. via Science Daily