Saturday 9 July 2016

GIS Based Spatial Modeling of Biochar Application to the Soil for GHG Mitigation

The phenomenon of global warming has gained immense interest among academic and industrial researchers. Many mitigation techniques are being analyzed to address this issue. Among these, biochar application to soil is considered as promising technique for greenhouse gases (GHG) mitigation [1]. Biochar or charcoal is a biomass-derived black carbon (C). It is a stable residue that is produced after charring the biomass. Biochar when applied to soil can enhance moisture and nutrients retention while improving fertility and microbiological properties of soils. The average carbon content of the biochar is about 50%, and when it is applied to the land, some research results show that even after 100 years of passage of time, biochar derived from crop residues loses less than 10 percent of its carbon content [1]. A comparison of the process of degradation of the C-content for biomass and biochar over a period of 100 years is shown in Fig-1.

Biochar shows very good stability due to the presence of charcoal which is inert and resistant to biochemical breakdown. This property of biochar to retain nutrients especially C-content for a long period of time originates the concept of C sequestration potential of biochar in the context of the global C cycle. The concept of biochar-C sequestration involves breaking the carbon cycle by converting it into a stable form (biochar), thus effectively removing a fraction of carbon from the cycle and limiting its release to the atmosphere. In this sense biochar can act as a long term sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide in land environment. The use of biochar as a C is a promising way to reduce atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and thus mitigate climate change. The effectiveness of this solution will depend on the maximization of the range of economic and environmental benefits of this practice [3]. Production to application costs of biochar can be fully recovered from the crop production and savings in fertilizer cost. There are new economic opportunities for sectors like forestry and agricultural industry, if biochar is used efficiently and cost effectively. One of the main benefits of using biochar as a fertilizer is that, it filters the pollutants that lead to soil remediation [4]. Hence, biochar can be utilized in different ways that brings down the average economic cost of implementation.

All the steps from biochar production to its application for GHG mitigation should be studied and analyzed for better results. These steps if and when modeled spatially and integrated into geographic information system (GIS) layers for clarity of observation, then the data can be managed and implemented efficiently. The biochar can be applied into terrestrial ecosystems and its outcome as a measure of the GHG mitigation can be studied. Utilizing GIS modeling techniques, data layers for biochar production can integrate the resources of biomass such as crop residues, livestock manure, pulp mill waste etc. Other layers of analysis can also include transport analysis, land management practices, and biochar application techniques. In addition, soil data can also be modeled into layers including soil response to field application of biochar.

To solve challenging problems of the project a modeling framework can be developed in the ArcGIS-Desktop environment. ArcGIS-Desktop is used for spatial analysis and modeling of all sorts of data as well as data management and mapping. This software can be easily used on Windows operating system. It is a platform for creating, editing, and analyzing geographic knowledge. The decision making can be improved as it allows seeing data on map for the clarity of patterns and trends in a given data. The data can be presented using separate layers and also as integration of all or a set of layers.
The emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agricultural sector contribute mainly to greenhouse gases. The application of sufficient quantity of biochar could reduce these emissions from soils as well as development of biochar system can provide opportunities of carbon sequestration and storage into soils [3]. Biochar can be produced from feedstock with high lignin content like in forest residues, crop residues and organic wastes that can result in high biochar yields and thus waste management fee of these residues would add up to economic benefits in terms of beneficial biochar production which would play a role in the structure of overall economy [2].
The regional case study of any affected locality can be modeled that would counter most of the soils, land-uses, and environmental issues throughout the country. Dairy lands can be chosen for such study as they generate high nitrous oxide and nitrate leachate such as from urine patches and require foremost attention [3]. Algorithms can be proposed for the assessment of competent biomass resource that would give higher biochar yield and to estimate the harvesting cost of biomass and mobility costs of biomass and biochar. The algorithms can also include the evaluation of application rates of biochar at particular site to determine the biochar production requirement. This would lead to propose the optimal size of the biomass processing plant for biochar production for a particular site. Many soil profiles are shallow and the volume of biochar application for efficient crop productivity is questionable. For shallow soils, even small volume of biochar if added to top few centimeters of soil might result in high yield as well as being effective for GHG mitigation. The soil types and conditions would govern the efficiency of biochar application [3].

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2 Responses to "GIS Based Spatial Modeling of Biochar Application to the Soil for GHG Mitigation"

  1. You made such an interesting piece to read, giving every subject enlightenment for us to gain knowledge. Thanks for sharing the such information with us to read this.

    1. It is good to know that you gained knowledge from this article. Hope to help you out more.