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Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture

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Biochar is a potentially valuable soil amendment produced from biomass, through pyrolysis. Biochar improves soil aggregation, enhances nutrient- and water-holding capacity, provides habitat for soil organisms, modulates microbial activity and biodiversity, and may stabilize soil organic carbon (SOC). Pyrolysis also yields biofuels in the form of combustible gases or oils. Biochar is thought to mitigate climate change by providing both renewable energy and a soil amendment that may signifi cantly enhance net soil carbon (C) sequestration. However, additional research is needed before biochar applications to fi elds and grazing lands can be validated as a carbon off set and a potential source of income for farmers and ranchers.

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Table of Contents
Introduction ………………………………………………….1
What is Biochar? ………………………………………………2
Importance to Farmers and Ranchers ………………………………2
On-Farm and Community-Based Bioenergy Production ………………….4
Economic Potential of Biochar …………………………………..4
Relationship to Climate Change and Soil Carbon Sequestration ……….6
Limits of Biochar and Climate Change: The Fuel-Versus-Food Debate …..9
Summary: The Future of Biochar for Sustainable Agriculture ………..10
References …………………………………………………..10
Further Resources …………………………………………….12

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