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ICRISAT Introduces Cost-effective Biochar Production System for Farm-Level Sustainability

ICRISAT's research on low-cost, decentralized biochar production indicates a promising future for sustainable farming practices.

Shivam Dwivedi
ICRISAT Introduces Cost-effective Biochar Production System for Farm-Level Sustainability (Photo Source: Pexels)
ICRISAT Introduces Cost-effective Biochar Production System for Farm-Level Sustainability (Photo Source: Pexels)

A ground-breaking study on biochar production has been introduced by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in response to growing worldwide concerns about climate change and sustainable agriculture. Biochar, known for its ability to enrich soil fertility and sequester carbon dioxide, is emerging as a crucial component in the quest for net-zero emissions and soil conservation.

Affordable Biochar Production for Smallholder Farmers:

ICRISAT's recent study focuses on developing a low-cost, decentralized biochar production system tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers. This innovative approach aims to empower farmers while addressing environmental challenges associated with agricultural residues.

Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, highlighted the importance of integrated solutions in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She lauded the study's authors for their contribution to promoting a cleaner and greener future through biochar production.

Utilizing the Agricultural Residues:

India, a major agricultural hub, generates over 500 million tons of agricultural residues annually, a quarter of which is burned, posing health and environmental risks. Converting these residues into biochar presents a sustainable alternative, offering both waste management solutions and potential revenue streams for farmers.

Dr. ML Jat, Director of Global Research Program - Resilient Farm and Food Systems at ICRISAT, stressed the importance of decentralized biochar production to ensure its accessibility and affordability for farmers and Self-Help Groups (SHGs). This approach aligns with government initiatives such as voluntary carbon markets and environmental programs.

Comparative Analysis & Technological Advancements:

The study compared biochar produced from pigeonpea and maize stalks using ICRISAT's pyrolysis kiln with that from a lab-scale muffle furnace. Advanced analytical techniques revealed comparable quality between the two methods, with biochar from the portable kiln exhibiting promising results.

Dr. Gajanan Sawargaonkar highlighted the advantages of thermochemical techniques like pyrolysis, emphasizing their efficiency and potential benefits over traditional methods such as composting. The study also stressed the need for comprehensive research on biochar's effects on soil microbial diversity and plant health, as well as societal implications and farmer demonstrations for effective adoption.

ICRISAT is expanding its biochar research to encompass various crop residues and standardize its application across different cropping systems and soil types. This strategic long-term study aims to deliver tangible benefits to farmers while advancing sustainable agriculture practices.

(Inputs taken from ICRISAT)

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