Dr McLeod said the project is part of a larger international project in Australia and Aceh, Indonesia, led by Dr Peter Slavich, and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. "The next two years of the project will confirm the extent of these initial findings," Dr McLeod said. "With one of the most variable rainfall climates in the world, Australian agricultural industries are always looking at ways to become more efficient and more adaptive. "Technological advances such as biochar helps our farmers do more with less and continue to find ways to adapt to our unpredictable climate." Biochar is a stable form of charcoal produced from heating organic materials (crop and other waste, woodchips, manure) in a high temperature, low oxygen process known as pyrolysis. Preliminary results of the Tamworth biochar study include:
- Plots which incorporated biochar together with fertilizer were up to 17 per cent more water efficient than those without biochar.
- Pasture biomass is higher on plots which incorporated biochar when nitrogen fertiliser is also applied.
- Poultry-litter biochar increased available phosphorus by around 50 per cent in the first year of application.