by Dr Genxing Pan, Conference organizer
The international workshop “Biochar and New Green Agriculture of China” was held in Nanjing September 20 – 23rd at the International Conference Hotel, Jiangsu Province. Organized by the International Biochar Initiative and the Nanjing Agricultural University, the workshop was co-sponsored by a number of key agricultural education and research institutes and biochar production enterprises including Shenyang Agricultural University, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Sanli New Energy Company. Dr David Crowley from the University of California, Riverside, and Dr Genxing Pan, from Nanjing Agricultural University lead the conference organization.
Eighty-eight participants attended the conference representing 14 Chinese universities, 17 research institutes including the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and 8 biochar enterprises including Sanli New Energy and Shanghai Zhongke Anda Environmental Technology.
Advised by an international board headed by Dr Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University (and Chairman of the IBI Board), the workshop offered an open forum for exchange and discussion on biochar production technology and systems, biochar’s role in mitigation of greenhouse gases in agriculture, soil enhancement, crop productivity and soil pollution remediation for green agriculture in China. The two-day workshop included a plenary session with seven keynote speakers (three IBI Board Members—Dr. Johannes Lehmann, Dr. Stephen Joseph and Dr. Saran Sohi were among the speakers), three voluntary sessions including 12 oral presentations and a poster session with 19 posters, mainly from China.
Dr Lehmann gave a general introduction of biochar technology development in the world and highlighted the urgent need for standardization of biochar in agriculture. Speakers throughout the day highlighted the role of biochar in C and N cycling, in soil microbial activity, and in mitigating greenhouse gases. While addressing the problems with the increasing amount of crop straw wastes and the increasing environmental stresses in China’s agriculture, Dr Pan put an emphasis on biochar production as a method to recycle bio-wastes and highlighted its great potential in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, in enhancing soil organic matter and in alleviating the metal pollution of croplands.
In this workshop, many presentations highlighted biochar work occuring throughout China in regard to production system innovation, field experiments with biochar as a soil amendment to low fertility croplands, as a mitigation measure for reducing N2O emissions from agriculture as well as working to reclaim salt affected soils for cereal and bioenergy crops throughout China. The two best poster awards were voted for a young brilliant student and for a new company with a mobile pyrolysis system used in dry croplands.
Dr Lehmann chaired the general discussion and summary of the workshop before the closing and commended the discussions on biochar production and application in agriculture between the researchers, engineers and enterprises, and between experts from China and internationally in an open and friendly atmosphere throughout the workshop. The conference highlighted the fast growth of the biochar science community in China, the future of biochar technology in China’s agricultural development though guidelines and standardization, and a follow-up workshop in two years.
Mr Fang Fang, an official responsible for resource and environmental issues in agriculture also attended the workshop, as did Professor Zhou, the new president of Nanjing Agricultural University, who gave a talk during the opening ceremony highlighting biochar science and technology in agriculture. During the closing ceremony, a new center of Biochar and Green Agriculture at the Nanjing Agricultural University was founded and unveiled by Dr Lehmann. Also launched at the workshop, the China Initiative of Biochar and Green Agriculture will act as a platform for cooperative biochar technology development between Chinese science, engineering, and enterprises.
After the workshop two field trips were organized including one to the Sanli New Energy Company, Henan, a key biochar producer in China and another to Nantong, highlighting a pilot demonstration project of biochar and saline soil reclamation and bioenergy crop production.