Biochar Assessment and Soil Mapping Study
Donor / Partner: Asian Development Bank | Duration: 2014-2015 | Location: Greater Mekong Region
About: Biochar provides an innovative solution for GMS gender-responsive and climate-friendly agriculture. Biochar is the carbon rich product produced when biomass such as such as wood, manure or leaves, is heated with little or no available oxygen. It is added to soils to improve soil functions and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from biomass. Using biomass to produce biochar can release much less smoke than open burning by conventional practices that would otherwise naturally degrade to greenhouse gases.
Biochar’s benefits are fourfold:
- sequester carbon in the soil for hundreds to thousands of years thus providing climate change mitigation benefits;
- significant soil improvements such as improving water holding capacity, releasing nutrient elements, reducing nutrient leaching, reducing soil acidity, and improving the soil fauna or soil biological function;
- production of biochar provides an efficient and renewable energy source;
- biochar production provides a sustainable solution for the disposal of green wastes.
The application of biochar in the GMS is limited due to lack of knowledge and awareness and limited field capacity. The goal of this study is to provide information on the technical, socio-economic, resource and agronomic constraints and opportunities for biochar in the GMS. This is needed as a first step so that each GMS country can develop a biochar program or bolster existing programs.
ICEM has been contracted to produce the following key objectives:
- Develop a spatial representation of the diversity of soil types and soil properties of selected areas in the GMS;
- Undertake a biochar potential assessment to identify biochar hotspots and produce technical and economic feasibility assessment for biochar development in these areas.
The overarching aims are:
- the promotion of climate friendly agriculture in small holder farms;
- reduction in the use of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers;
- reduction in GHG emissions;
- poverty alleviation;
- attracting the attention of policy makers for promotion of biochar in the GMS.