The cattle growing activity has been associated for some time with increased greenhouse gas emissions, such as nitrous oxide. Grazed pastures have been studied and their increased nitrous oxide emissions have been proven to be reduced by biochar, which can sequester the embodied carbon in the soil and alters soil nitrogen transformations in a beneficial way.
A study performed at Lincoln University in New Zealand over a period of 86 days of spring and summer showed how soil-implanted biochar reduces nitrous oxide emissions produced by cattle by 70%. The total nitrogen content in the pasture had not been affected in a negative way.
Arezoo Taghizadeh-Toosi, the study lead researcher said that “under the highest rate of biochar, ammonia formation and its subsequent adsorption onto or into the biochar, reduced the inorganic-nitrogen pool available for nitrifiers and thus nitrate concentrations were reduced. Such effects would have diminished the substrate available for microbial nitrous oxide production.”
Nitrous oxide is a precursor to compounds that harm the ozone layer. The world’s increased appetite for beef and the increasing population will surely lead to much higher levels of ozone-unfriendly compounds than 50 years ago, for example. Finding a solution like biochar is a step forward for this industry.