Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019: another milestone year in biochar research and dissemination in Finland

The year 2019 is ending and it is really worth acknowledging the many important events our AgriChar research group was actively participating in. The most important event was the greatest ever biochar get-together in Finland. 4-6 September 2019 we had the pleasure to co-organize (together with International Biochar Initiative, Finnish Biochar Association, Fortum Puro and Carbofex Oy) the IBI Study Tour Finland. This event brought together 121 biochar experts and enthusiasts from 18 countries from all over the world, being a very nice next step from the last such world-scale event, the 2nd Nordic Biochar Seminar we organized six years ago in 2013. The presentations of the event can be seen online at the website of Finnish Biochar Association. We were honoured also by the presence of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Finland, Ms. Krista Mikkonen!

Another important event we were part of was the final seminar of Carbon Lane project on 11 December 2019. This event was the final get together where our project team (consisting of people from University of Helsinki, Aalto University and also City of Helsinki) presented the fruits of our work. The Carbon Lane project focused on principles of urban demonstration areas for carbon sequestration  and was funded by EIT Climate-KIC. The presentations of that event will also soon be available on the project website, as well as the reports that are currently in the review phase. 

The year 2019 was extremely successful for biochar research and dissemination and we are happy to share many of our publications on this website with you soon. 

Happy New Biochar Year 2020 to all! 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Biochar breaking through in Finland during 2019!

The year 2019 seems really to be THE biochar year for Finland at least!

Many landmark issues have been launched recently, perhaps one of the most important globally is the launch of Puro Carbon removal marketplace in Finland. The platform has just held third auction for CO2 removal with great success and we're really glad that biochar is one of the pathways for C sequestration, alongside with carbonated and wooden building elements.

Biochar is getting attention also from national level policymakers in Finland. New Prime Minister of Finland, Mr. Antti Rinne's government agenda promises more funds and subsidies for research and practices that focus on carbon sequestration- on p 119 also #biochar as an example listed. .

Sequestering atmospheric carbon with the help of biochar will also be the main focus of the IBI Study Tour Finland during 4-6 September 2019. Everyone is welcome to join and hear the insights of the leading experts on carbon fixing (during 4th of Sept in Helsinki) and about use of biochar in urban contexts (5 and 6 Sept in Tampere). Registration is open already, so hurry up to get the early bird price (closes on 15 July!)

And last, before everyone sets out for the Midsummer holidays here in Finland, another great event coming in October: Nordic Biochar Conference in Stockholm on 16-17 October 2019Good chance to hear about ongoing biochar initiatives in the Nordics and discuss the path forward! The deadline for abstract submission is August 21st.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Growing season 2019 started!

Last few weeks have been especially intensive for AgriChar research group, we have arranged fertilization and sowing for five field experiments and worked also with three other experiments. Our long-term field experiments with biochar added in 2010 and 2011 enter now already to tenth and ninth growing seasons, this week the sowing of barley and grass mixture was successfully completed! Next years we'll have different clover grasses and ryegrasses growing. Some rain would now be perfect!
Spring 2019, sowing biochar experiments

We have also conducted fertilization and sowing of our recycling fertilizers field experiments in HYKERRYS experiments in Haltiala, Vantaa and Knehtilä.
The first HYKERRYS project on recycling fertilizers is coming to end and starting from June 2019, we'll continue with HYKERRYS 2 with funding from the Ministry of Environment.

Last weeks have been intensive on the field with plot marking, fertilization and sowing and installation of equipment for greenhousegas measurements. Good job for all the HYKERRYS team, particularly coordinator Mari Unnbom and Jure Zrim! See more: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Good-Yield-Recycling-Fertilizer-HYKERRYS-Tila-HYKERRYS-and-HYKERRYS-2.

Furthermore, our results have been on show in different international conferences recently,

Subin Kalu was presenting in April at EGU2019 conference the highlights of our mechanistic study on how regular and Kon-Tiki nutrient loaded biochar affect nitrogen cycling.
And yesterday on 22 May, Mina Kiani presented the preliminary results from lysimeter and field experiments in AquaConSoil 2019 in Antwerp, Belgium. She explored the environmental impacts of lake sediment recycling as phosphorus-rich soil amendment. The method is promising but many new questions raised!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

4th Finnish Biochar Seminar: Proceedings uploaded

On 11th December 2018, already fourth Finnish Biochar Seminar was held in Viikki, Helsinki. We at AgriChar research group & Finnish Biochar Association were happy to host this, already traditional, event! As usual, the event was a meeting point for networking and hearing the latest research and pilot case highlights from Finnish and Nordic research groups. Historically, we had participants from five countries: all over Finland, but also from Estonia, Sweden, Norway and even from Egypt!

In addition to poster session and demonstration of pyrolysis equipment, we had two sessions of interesting presentations covering pretty well all the biochar research being done in Finland and in the Nordics, from forestry and agriculture to urban ecosystems and market studies.

We are grateful to all the presenters for high-quality presentations!

You are welcome to check the presentations from http://biochar-hy.blogspot.com/p/4th-finnish-biochar-seminar.html!

Friday, 16 November 2018

As the first country in the world, Finland has free map covering all its biochar activities!

The Finnish Biochar Association is pleased to announce that the map of biochar activities in Finland is now published. The map is continuously updated and will include more details in the future (e.g., scale of each project).
See: https://www.suomenbiohiili.info/biochar-map.html

The map includes five different categories:
  1. Research organizations involved with biochar research
  2. Biochar companies who have their own biochar production or use contract manufacturers
  3. Finished projects, including practical biochar projects
  4. Ongoing projects, including planned or currently ongoing practical biochar projects
  5. Scientific research projects, conducted through applying scientific method and using controls, and which results are or will be made public (preferably in the form of peer-reviewed scientific articles).

There are projects about biochar located in around 30 different 
Finnish municipalities and cities. All of the top ten largest Finnish 
cities are involved (Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Oulu, Turku, 
Jyväskylä, Lahti, Kuopio, and Pori). Despite the high number of 
different finished and ongoing biochar projects across Finland, the 
scale of these projects has generally been small. Majority of the 
projects were completed during the last two years and many of them have 
been inspired by the example of the city of Stockholm, which has been 
using biochar as a standard material in the structural soil since 2009.
Image from City of Stockholm biochar project.

The key focus areas around the biochar projects in Finland are effects on crop and tree growth and stormwater management. The scale and number of projects are expected to increase in the upcoming years significantly. And yes, naturally also the AgriChar research group experiments are listed on the map!

Please cite the map as:
“Salo, E., Riikonen, A., Tammeorg, P., Elo, A. 2018. Map of biochar activities in Finland. Finnish Biochar Association (FBA). www.suomenbiohiili.info”

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

4th Finnish Biochar Seminar: 11 December 2018 in Viikki, Helsinki

AgriChar research group and Finnish Biochar Association are proud to welcome you to the 4th Finnish Biochar Seminar to share and hear the latest biochar research and pilots in Finland and in neighboring countries! 

During the meeting, we will also discuss the new Nordic Biochar Network, see: http://nordicbiochar.org!

Please fill in the form for registration at https://goo.gl/forms/p0YAao1mRZDFUsVC2

The registration ends on 26 November, after which the full details on practicalities will be sent to the registered participants to the e-mail address provided.

For the FBA members with paid membership fee, the access is free. To join the Finnish Biochar Association, please go to http://www.suomenbiohiili.info/join-us.html.

 Warm welcome! 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Harvest 2018 and our presentations at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science in Rio de Janeiro

We at AgriChar research group have successfully started the harvest season of 2018 from our long-term field experiments. The weather today was nice and sunny and yield of oats and barley were quite fine irrespective of the ‘Drought of a Decade’. 

The peas were not doing so good, after being attacked by geese during the Midsummer weekend, they were, much to our surprise, able to regrow all the leaves eaten and form pods, but then the pigeons finished off what was left from the geese.

When some of our group members are working on the fields in Finland, others are networking and reporting their latest results on the other side of the globe. Namely, three of our doctoral students, Mina, Jure and Subin are presenting at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This event brings together around 7000 soil enthusiasts from around the world, among them also hundreds of biochar experts. 

If you are in Brazil, make sure not to miss AgriChar presentations:

Tomorrow, on August 14 at 1:50 PM, Mina Kiani will present her poster on impacts of lake sediment reuse on plant growth and soil properties in the field. Toten 42.

Next, on August 16 at 1:30 PM, Subin Kalu answers the question, to what extent spruce biochar acts as slow-release long-term fertilizer if applied to nutrient poor sandy soil. Toten 38

Those who are interested about effects of softwood biochars on soil biota in boreal soils, would not want to miss Jure Zrim’s presentation on August 16, at 2:20 PM. Toten 37.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Growing season 2018 started

We have now started the growing season 2018 in Viikki fields, one of which is now entering the ninth growing season after biochar application.

The past month has been extremely dry here in Southern Finland (and still is, see largest farmer's newspaper from yesterday: https://www.maaseuduntulevaisuus.fi/maatalous/artikkeli-1.253995). This has posed challenges on our field experiments as well. For instance, we were hoping to try biochar effects on flax, but the crop is very sensitive to drought and after waiting for 33 days, there literally were just a few flax plants growing in between of weeds. So just today we resow that field to barley: the cereals have been doing the best this year, even though aphids are a threat there as well.

Interestingly, it seems that even after eight years since application of biochar to relatively high carbon containing soils, it still helps crops to strive better in drought conditions, see below.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

3rd Finnish Biochar Workshop and the spring meeting of Finnish Biochar Association

On March 28, 2018, the 3rd Finnish Biochar Workshop was held in Eura. The event was organized by Finnish Biochar Association and hosted by Biolan Oy, in their innovative eco-building. The location and host were the perfect match for us as just few months ago, the Biolan’s biochar-containing Istutusmulta was selected as the Gardening Product of the Year 2018 of Finland!

As usual, we had participants representing the whole Finnish biochar sector: several Finnish companies present (but also from Estonia, Latvia and Russia), researchers and local municipalities. The two sessions provided overview of the state of art of biochar research (amazing 1000+ papers published in first three months of 2018!), also biochar availability and opportunities-challenges and pilot cases in Finland.

Read more, see pictures and presentations from https://www.suomenbiohiili.info/fba-workshops.html

We then toured the Biolan plant  and finally, held the spring meeting of the Finnish Biochar Association. We there discussed thoroughly the most efficient ways the FBA and especially its Policy WG can use for enhancing the sustainable biochar production and use in Finland in regards to legislation.

The next event will probably be in early December and will be held in Helsinki.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Biochar is a promising tool for remediating PAH polluted sites

The use of biochar (BC) has been suggested for remediation of contaminated soils. In a recent study published in Water, Air, & Soil Pollution we aimed to investigate the role of microorganisms in sorption of PAH to BC-amended soils. Fungi, especially the wood and litter-degrading fungi, have shown the ability for humification and to degrade recalcitrant molecules, and are thus suitable model organisms.

Haplic Arenosol with high organic matter content was chosen to highlight the importance of soil organic matter (SOM) in PAH sorption, possibly to form non-extractable residue. Basidiomycetous fungi Agrocybe praecox and Phanerochaete velutina grown on pine bark were inoculated in organic matter (OM)-rich Haplic Arenosol and OM-poor sandy loam with either BC or chemically activated BC (ABC) and 14C-labelled pyrene for 60 days.

Fungi did not mineralize pyrene, but increased sorption up to 47–56% in BC-amended Haplic Arenosol in comparison with controls (13–25%) without a fungus irrespective of the presence of an adsorbent. In OM-poor sandy loam, only 9–12% of pyrene was sorbed to amended soil in the presence of fungus and adsorbent. The results suggest that BC and fungal amendment increased sorption of pyrene, especially to Haplic Arenosol more than by either BC or fungi alone.

We found that PAH can effectively be sorbed to carbonaceous soil amendments and can thus be a promising tool for remediating polluted sites. The effectiveness of biochar to sorb PAH can further be increased when activating the biochar thus improving not only its BET surface area, but also its pore morphology and surface chemistry. The method was shown to be even further enhanced if biochar addition is combined with treatment with Basidiomycetous fungi, especially in high SOM soils. Sorption of pyrene to the BC-SOM complex enhanced by fungi could help reduce the leaching of pyrene from soil to groundwater, but the results are yet to be validated under field conditions and the role of soil microbial population should be further studied.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

2nd Finnish Biochar Workshop and Autumn meeting of Finnish Biochar Association

The 2nd Finnish Biochar Workshop was successfully held in Tampere on 4 December 2017, we had participants representing the whole Finnish biochar sector: companies, researchers and local municipalities. The event was organized by Finnish Biochar Association and Forest Biochar research group of University of Helsinki and hosted by Carbofex Oy. Our other host, the Hiedanranta project of the City of Tampere (read more about this piloting platform for creating smart and sustainable City district for circular economy where biochar is an important part of the story, here) offered us a nice conference room in the Kuivaamo, a venue that can host up to 1000 participants. This time we were not yet that many, but might well be in few years:

Happy participants of the 2nd Finnish Biochar Workshop. Photos by Jure Zrim and Priit Tammeorg.

During two sessions and 10 presentations we got the overview of the current developments in the area of biochar sector in Finland. After the presentations we visited the brand new biochar factory of Carbofex Oy. Read more and see the the presentations from the FBA website.