Thursday, 4 June 2020

Growing season 2020 started in our field experiments, including urban biochar park in Helsinki

Since March 2020 the University of Helsinki has been working under emergency situation rules due to #COVID19, this has posed several challenges also to establishing field experiments. The AgriChar team has however managed to start all three field experiments we have here in Finland and hope to collect data from our Estonian sites during the summer.
Seeds of red clover being sown to biochar experiments
Our long-term biochar field experiments have now entered the 11th growing season! The timothy and ryegrass were growing fine (sown in spring 2019) but the clovers did not survive over winter. For this reason additional sowing of red clover was completed in May to all the plots. Keeping now fingers crossed for rain :)

Fertilizing HYKERRYS 2 fields in May 2020
 In our recycling #fertilizer experiment in Haltiala Helsinki, the fertilization and sowing tasks were arranged for the first time without helping hands of student trainees. Thus the tasks took all a bit more time (and the sowing was postponed) but thanks to great teamwork led by Mari Unnbom we managed to complete the tasks! Also this year we had the challenge with bird damage in Haltiala on canola, thus it was decided to replace canola with barley. 

  And lastly, our newest experimental site is urban biochar park in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki. In order to achieve the ambitious goals of carbon (C) neutrality within next 15–20 year, cities worldwide need to increasingly apply negative emission technologies. Biochars, thanks to their stability against microbial degradation, suit well for application to both agricultural and urban soils as a C- fixing technology providing multiple co-benefits. While providing support for the city planners and policymakers to develop tools for more sustainable management practices of urban green areas, high visibility and impact can be gained in the densely populated urban areas. Our project focuses on general principles of urban demonstration areas for carbon sequestration as well as following up a pilot park in Helsinki. The project includes Carbon Lane project funded by EIT Climate-KIC as well as #Hiilipuisto project funded by Rikala puutarhasäätiö.

Baseline tree measurements of biochar urban park-experiment in 2020
Last November the growing media were applied to Hyväntoivonpuisto in Helsinki and we sampled them for physicochemical analyses. In April-May 2020, 80 trees were planted to the park in different biochar media. Last week our team kicked off the #Hiilipuisto #CarbonPark project by recording the starting condition of all individual trees. This data will be used to establish a baseline on which biochar-containing growing media perform best in long-term considering carbon sequestration.

By the way, the list of all peer-reviewed studies regarding to biochars and lake sediments conducted in Finland is updated recently with more than 10 fresh papers, check them out:

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