Biochar amendment improves degraded pasturelands in Brazil: environmental and cost-benefit analysis
Most deforested lands in Brazil are occupied by low-productivity cattle ranching. Biochar has been shown to improve soil properties and agricultural productivity when added to degraded soils, but these effects are context-dependent. The impact of biochar, fertilizer and inoculant on the productivity of forage grasses in Brazil (Brachiaria spp. and Panicum spp.) was investigated from environmental and socio-economic perspectives. We showed a 27% average increase in Brachiaria production over two years but no significant effects of amendment on Panicum yield. Biochar addition also increased the contents of macronutrients, soil pH and CEC. Each hectare amended with biochar saved 91 tonnes of CO2eq through land sparing effect, 13 tonnes of CO2eq sequestered in the soil, equating to U$455 in carbon payments. Biochar could improve productivity of degraded pasturelands in Brazil if investments in efficient biochar production techniques are used and biochar is subsidized by low emission incentive schemes.