Climate Smart Biochar Systems

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    Cumulative Report
    Seitz, Tobias; Solomon, Dawit (BGR-Germany, 2017-09)
    The German government has commissioned the Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) to support its partner, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR), in gaining knowledge in biochar-systems for improved soil and nutrient mangement in Ethiopian agriculture. Therefore, the aim of this report is to provide basic information about the principles of biochar systems and the prerequisites for a succesful implementation in Ethiopia. The fundamental questions this report deals with and tries to answer are: i) In which way and from which feedstock can biochar be produced in Ethiopia? ii) Which positive and negative effects does the application of biochar substrates have on the soils, the environment, the climate and on the livelihoods? iii) Which experiences have been made in Ethiopia with biochar systems? iv) Who could partner a prospective pilot project and where are the best conditions? v) Which policies and legal frameworks will affect the implementation of biochar systems?
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    Report 3: Identification and characterization of two priority areas for a biochar system pilot project in Ethiopia
    Seitz, Tobias; Solomon, Dawit (BGR-Germany, 2017-07)
    Scientific knowledge, as well as knowledge from practical experiences in Ethiopia have been gathered and evaluated. As a final step, two priority areas have been selected that are best suited for a prospective intervention to establish biochar systems in Ethiopian agriculture. The first priority area is suited for the introduction of small-scale pyrolysis or gasification cookstoves in rural areas. The priority area aligns with the project area of the GIZ - ISFM+ project, since the project offers the ideal conditions to combine biochar with other soil improving technologies, such as composting, manuring, or chemical fertilizers. A spatial analysis of pH and SOC content within the project woredas shows that soils in the woredas in Amhara (apart from the highlands) and especially in Western Oromia would benefit the most from the application of biochar substrate. In this area, coffee residues are the most promising feedstock source. A specific stove-model can not be recommended, yet, but several research groups are working on stove optimization in Ethiopia.
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    Report 2: Synopsis and Evaluation of Biochar Activities in Ethiopia - Schemes for Potential Biochar Systems
    Seitz, Tobias; Solomon, Dawit (BGR-Germany, 2017-05)
    Several actors have been involved, and are currently or prospectively involved in the introduction of biochar systems to Ethiopian cropping systems. Among these actors are the universities of Jimma (ETH), Haramaya (ETH), Injibara (ETH), Hawassa (ETH), Bahir Dar (ETH), Addis Abeba (ETH), Dilla (ETH), Cornell (USA) and James Cook University (AUS). One of the most comprehensive activities was probably the joint research programme of Jimma and Cornell Universities, that have developed a set of “indigenous biofertilizers” on the basis of biochar and bone char (charred residues of animal bones). Apart from universities, also the Amhara Regional Agriculture Research Institute (ARARI) and the Mekelle Agricultural Research Centre have contributed to biochar research in Ethiopia. Some of these research activities have identified promising feedstock sources to produce biochar, such as, coffee husks, Prosopis juliflora, or animal bones. But none of them could present a well-suited technology to convert this biomass to biochar.
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    Report 1: State of the Art of Biochar Systems in the Tropics with a Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa
    Seitz, Tobias; Solomon, Dawit (BGR-Germany, 2016-10)
    The population of Ethiopia is growing rapidly, increasing the food demand and the pressure on soils and other natural ressources. In the highlands of Ethiopia, relatively fertile soils of volcanic origin (Nitisols) predominate. However, many of them are affected by several fertility constraints, such as erosion, nutrient depletion, acidity or waterlogging. On behalf of the German Government, the Federal Institute for Geoscience and Natural Resources (BGR) is working with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Ressources and international partners to assess the potential of biochar as a new strategy for Ethiopia to counteract its soil degradation. Recent research around the globe has shown that using biochar as a soil conditioner can amend these issues, when not applied purely to the soil but in combination with other organic amendments, such as compost, urine or manure. However, more research on a local level is necessary to predict the long-term effects of biochar on crops, soils, climate, humans and the whole environment. Key factors of these effects are the technology and the feedstock sources used for the production of biochar. Production technologies are available from small-scale cook stoves up to sophisticated large-scale pyrolysis plants. Whereas feedstocks should be carefully selected from nutrient-poor organic waste, in order to avoid nutrient losses and biomass competition. However, not only technical factors are vital for the implementation of biochar into cropping systems, but also social and political ones. The cultural compatibility and political conditions need to be taken into consideration as well.
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    Potential-Analysis of Biochar Systems for Improved Soil and Nutrient Management in Ethiopian Agriculture
    Seitz, Tobias; Solomon, Dawit (BGR- Germany, 2017-09)
    Soils are one of the most valuable resources on earth and are one of the most important foundation of food security. Particularly in tropical and subtropical Africa, soils are affected by degradation, which has a negative impact on agricultural production. The arable and pasture land of the Ethiopian highlands form the basis for the livelihood of a large part of the population, though being one of the most degraded areas in the world. More efforts must therefore be made to stop the progressive soil degradation and, where possible, to reverse it.
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    Socio-economic scenarios of low hanging fruits for developing climate-smart biochar systems in Ethiopia: Biomass resource availability to sustainably improve soil fertility, agricultural productivity and food and nutrition security
    Solomon, Dawit; Lehmann, Johannes (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR-Germany), 2017-10)
    Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and is expected to cross 300 million margin by the year 2050 - projected to become among the world’s top ten most populous countries. This is anticipated to induce greater demand for increased agricultural production, food, forest, energy and other natural resources such as land, and it is also expected to significantly influence the manner in which these resources are utilized. Despite a recent economic upturn where the country’s economy was estimated to be growing at 8-11% annually making it the fifth-fastest growing economy among the 188 countries, Ethiopia still faces a number of critical development challenges. Smallholder agriculture is the main livelihood for an overwhelming majority of Ethiopia’s population, and it is the basis of the country’s national economy. However, most Ethiopian smallholder farmers still practice subsistence level and less diversified rain fed agriculture with very low agricultural productivity. Thus, food and nutritional insecurity still remain high in the country, and most rural smallholder farming households live under a very fragile existence.