Eventually the final publication of the EU COST Action "Biochar as option for sustainable resource management" (2012-2017) is published in the journal Journal of Environmental Engineering and Landscape Management, please see the open access papers from the journal website.
The nine articles cover the main results of the COST Action, some arer highlighted here. The first one published, Tammeorg et al. 2017 explored the research priorities for the future biochar research. The highest future research priorities regarding biochar’s effects in
soils were: functional redundancy within soil microbial communities,
bioavailability of biochar’s contaminants to soil biota, soil organic
matter stability, GHG emissions, soil formation, soil hydrology,
nutrient cycling due to microbial priming as well as altered rhizosphere
ecology, and soil pH buffering capacity.
The Kern et al. (2017) paper focused on the question to what extent peat may be replaced in growing media by biochar.
First positive results from laboratory and greenhouse experiments have
been reported with biochar content in growing media ranging up to 50%.
Various companies have already started to use biochar as an additive in
their growing media formulations. Biochar might play a more important
role in replacing peat in growing media, when biochar is available,
meets the quality requirements, and their use is economically feasible.
Frenkel et al. (2017), on the other hand, concluded that even low rates of biochar addition (less than 1%) can have positive effects on plant health. Kammann et al. (2017) reviewed the current state of knowledge on the potential of biochar to reduce N2O and CH4 emissions from agriculture. The found that the largest future research needs lay in conducting
life-cycle GHG assessments when using biochar as an on-farm management
tool for nutrient-rich biomass waste streams.
The representetativeness of European biochar research was analyzed by Verheijen et al. (2017) for field experiments and Sakrabani et al. (2017) for pot and lab experiments. They concluded that the potential of different biochars for remediation of contaminants need more research attention and that it is crucial to contextualize the effects of biochar on soil properties.
The Biochar COST Action was an efficient initiative to make the network of biochar researchers in Europe more coherent and I am sure several new projects and synergistic future steps will follow!