New Zealand has recently formed a Biochar Network in conjunction with Massey University’s Biochar Initiative. The Biochar Initiative is a wide ranging, multi-year, internationally linked research and development (R&D) program, which aims to advance the understanding of biochar as a mitigation solution to global climate change and to enable its uptake in New Zealand particularly by the agricultural and forestry sectors. As part of this Initiative, Massey University has established the New Zealand Biochar Research Centre (NZBRC) to accommodate the two Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Professorial chairs in Biochar and Bioenergy Pyrolysis Engineering, and in Biochar and Soil Science Research. Dr Marta Camps Arbestain has recently been appointed as the Associate Professor of Biochar and Soil Science.
Research on several aspects of biochar technologies has started at the NZBRC, in collaboration with other NZ and overseas Research Institutes, local industry, regional government and community groups. The research centre aims to advance the understanding of biochar for mitigating global climate change and to enable its use in NZ, particularly by the agricultural and forestry sectors. The work at the NZBRC is organized into three closely linked streams of R&D activities: (i) soil science and biochar, (ii) pyrolysis plant and biochar engineering, and (iii) biochar and greenhouse gas mitigation strategies.
The Biochar Network has been established to disseminate research results from the NZBRC and other research organisations, and also international knowledge, to stakeholders interested in biochar. For more information, please see: http://www.biochar.co.nz/index.html.
The New Zealand 2011 Biochar Workshop “Opportunities, Risks and Acceptance” had over 56 attendees from all over New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands. The Workshop included a videoconference set with the UK Biochar Research Centre, in which Dr. Saran Sohi gave a keynote speech titled “Origins, Activities and Outputs” on the activities the Centre. There were two other keynote speakers: Prof. Ralph Sims who gave a talk on “Biochar and the Competing Uses for Biomass”, and Dr. Stephen Joseph who provided an overview of going “From Research and Development to Profitable Business”. There were over 35 presentations (both oral and poster) arranged into sessions on (i) Production Technology, (ii) Biochar Economics, (iii) Life-Cycle Assessments, (iv) Biochar and GHG Mitigation, (v) Characterization of Biochars, (vi) Biochar-Soil-Plant Interactions, (vii) Application Case Studies. A demonstration of a 1.2 m3 capacity pyrolysis unit was carried out by one of the companies attending the workshop. Attendees also visited the lysimeter experiment at the Plant & Food Research facilities and carried out by the NZBRC in collaboration with Plant & Food Research, Landcare Research, and the NZGARC.
The Biochar Network is producing a newsletter on biochar activities in the network and internationally. Please see the November Issue.
In April, 2010, New Zealand hosted the first meeting of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research. This initiative arose from the COP15 discussions in Copenhagen in Dec 2009. The Alliance has 29 members countries. This meeting was the first to set priorities and divide national responsibilities. On Saturday, April 10th, 2010, Massey University including the New Zealand Biochar Research Centre hosted a tour party of delegates who were being shown some of the New Zealand research activity on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation.