Since 2006, there has been a substantial increase in biochar-related research in soil mainly due to its potential for long-term carbon storage in soil and agronomic benefits from its soil application. It is now realised that the application of biochar to soils can have numerous effects on soil properties and processes; and as a result of this, biochar has found applications in restoration and environmental remediation of land.
This Biochar virtual issue presents selected articles covering several research aspects of biochar applications. These include laboratory, glasshouse and field studies, where biochars produced from woody materials, cereal straws, and animal wastes at different temperatures were applied to different soil types (e.g. Arenosols, Inceptisols, Cambisols, Luvisols and Ferralsols).
These articles cover a wide range of topics such as: (i) effect of compost and/or fertiliser application along with that of biochar on crop (radish and maize) yield (Chan et al., 2007; Agegnehu et al., 2015); (ii) effect of biochar on enzyme activity (Ouyang et al., 2014) and microbial diversity (Li et al., 2015); and (iii) influence of biochar on nitrogen mobility (Dempster et al., 2012; Zhang et al., 2013). In addition, there are studies that focus on the characterisation of fresh (Singh et al., 2010; Calvelo Pereira et al., 2015) and aged biochars (Nagodavithane et al., 2014) and developing methodologies for determining inorganic carbon in biochar (Wang et al. 2014). Finally, two studies provide a broader perspective of the biochar technology covering opportunities and challenges in its adoption, with a specific focus on Australian farmers (Singh et al., 2014), and a reflection on considerations of biochar properties and cost-effective analysis prior to a field-scale implementation of this technology (Mukherjee and Lal, 2014).