News Release 

Biochar used to prevent soil erosion in Tatarstan

It can also help in fighting environmental pollution

Kazan Federal University

The technology is created by the Institute of Environmental Sciences and funded by a federal grant. It has been tested in Tatarstan with one of Agrosila Group's enterprises, Zainsk Sugar.

Rising temperatures, even if by only one degree, can elicit various changes; if we are talking about soil, microorganisms can become more active and recycle humus faster. Humus mineralization increases CO2 emissions, which has two major negative consequences - soil degradation and greenhouse effect.

This leads to inquiries into the problem of retaining carbon in soils to raise their productivity and prevent temperature increase. One of the ways is to treat soil with biochar, a charcoal-derived soil amendment. KFU's proprietary technology comprises biochar production from chicken dung and agricultural waste, such as unusable remains of sunflower or rapeseed.

"When we use manure, the organic matter is very quickly consumed by microorganisms and fully mineralized with CO2 emission, and humus is thus not accumulated in the soil," explains Svetlana Selivanovskaya, Director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Conversely, biochar is less accessible to microbiota, and can transfer into humus-like substances, which, in turn, stalls carbon emission.

Apart from huge practical implications, the technology also helps decipher microbial colony behaviors, which becomes possible thanks to the newest equipment and interdisciplinary cooperation. "This helps us conduct special research to find out which microorganisms in a community will reproduce and accelerate CO2 emissions from soils, and how we can regulate and control this process to stifle mineralization. This is a chain linking together climate, productivity, and soil degradation; something that is very important in solving agricultural and environmental problems."

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