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Biochar fertilizers in sugarcane - understanding residual effects

Grant number: 18/09464-3
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2018
Effective date (End): July 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy
Principal Investigator:Henrique Coutinho Junqueira Franco
Grantee:Bernardo Melo Montes Nogueira Borges
Supervisor abroad: Saran Sohi
Home Institution: Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNPEM). Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brasil). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : University of Edinburgh, Scotland  
Associated to the scholarship:16/13813-8 - Characterization, production and evaluation of organic mineral biofertilizer from pyrolysed sugarcane trash, BP.PD


Complementary to the current Post-doctoral FAPESP fellowship (2016/13813-8) we herein present a proposal for an abroad research internship at the School of GeoSciences, located at the University of Edinburgh, which hosts the UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC). In agreement with Dr Saran Sohi, we here propose activities that address two pillars of understanding, regarding biochar function in tropical soils. It is embedded in the scientific community that biochar technologies offer long-term carbon (C) sequestration alongside agronomic benefits. Mechanistic understanding of nutrient-related response of tropical crops on weathered soils remains limited, likewise, the effects of residual biochar on soil in the long term. We propose to evaluate the dynamics of various ageing processes on biochar fertilizers. These concern oxidation processes, the utilization of labile carbon and the effects of biochar leaching on soil pH. We will apply the accelerated ageing methods previously defined in Edinburgh to compare the degradation pathway of C applied stable and more typical forms. The methods will be applied to the biochar fertilizer and to the sugarcane straw and referenced to changes over the shorter term, directly observed in project 2016/13813-8. The fate of labile C will be evaluated in conjunction with the priming potential of biochar. Biochar fertilizer from sugarcane straw has an isotope composition reflecting the C4 pathway. It will be applied to soils containing carbon only from C3 plants. The priming potential is then established by the composition of the CO2 flux. In summary, the project addresses a missing link in the original project, which will allow us to close the loop on short versus long term effects of biochar on nutrient delivery versus soil organic carbon stocks, nutrient cycling and crop yield.