New bill would explore potential benefits of biochar to farmers

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced legislation to establish a national biochar research network to test the impact of biochar in various soil types, application methods, and climates.  

Senator Sherrod Brown says biochar could benefit farmers.

“Biochar is a carbon-rich material produced from biomass. It has the potential to lower input costs for farmers and at the same time do good for the environment,” he says. “It’s not a new compound but it’s new to us to think about legislating about to help farmers.”

The Ohio Democrat joined U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, South Dakota Republican John Thune, and Montana Democrat Jon Tester in introducing the Biochar Research Network Act.

He tells Brownfield looking at biochar as a tool to help producers and the environment is farmer-driven. 

“Farmers have come and talked to me about it,” he says. “We need innovation to fight this global inflation and I want to look for new ways to save farmers money and help them in the fight against climate change.”

The proposed national biochar research network would work to understand productive uses for biochar to help with crop production and climate mitigation; assess its potential for soil carbon sequestration; and provide information to farmers on sustainable biochar production and application.

In a news release, Grassley said biochar can improve the quality of soil while also sequestering carbon. And with additional research, it could help lower costs and boost yields for farmers.  

Thune said biochar could potentially benefit crop production, nutrient retention, and reduce the carbon intensity of crops, ultimately amplifying the benefits of homegrown biofuels.

Tester said resources invested in research and innovation can pay “huge dividends” in the future by lowering costs and increasing profit margins for producers while improving soil health.

A companion bill, the bipartisan Biochar Research Network Act of 2022, was recently introduced in the U.S. House by Congresswomen Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican from Iowa, and Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree.

Audio: Senator Sherrod Brown

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