Biochar: eyes to the future

From 17th to 18th of January, the 1st Mediterranean Symposium on Biochar: “Biochar: past, present and future” was held in Vertemate con Minoprio (Co), Italy. The symposium was a good opportunity to meet national and international scientists and companies, and to take stock of all central aspects of the biochar system: renewable energy, agriculture and environment, climate change. Open Fields was among the invited guests as stakeholder.

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The speakers stressed the principal characteristics of biochar (the environmental effect on atmospheric carbon sequestration, the increasing of crop production, the ability to retain water and the remediation effect on polluted soils), the importance of traceability of feedstocks and the need to solve the doubts on long term effects. The advanced technologies (gasification, pyrogasification and hydrogasification) underlying biochar production were described by some of the major European companies. At last, importance has been given to its business, that in the USA is now underway, and the importance of quality certification and legislation to create a future market for biochar in Europe. In Italy, the Italian Biochar Association (ICHAR) is working to promote the use and future trade of biochar, organizing dissemination activities. ICHAR has made an application to the Scientific Commission on Fertilizers of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MiPAAF), to ask for the enrollment of biochar as a soil amendment. The application is currently under evaluation.