China can make staple crops carbon-negative by adding biochar to soil

Researchers calculate that alternative farming practices could turn staple crop production into a carbon sink and boost crop yields in China if adopted en masse


14 February 2023

Aerial view of tractor in wheat field harvesting straw for biomass power generation

Farmers harvesting straw in Anhui province, China

TPG/Getty Images

China’s production of staple food crops such as wheat and corn could become a net carbon sink if farmers start applying biochar to soils en masse.

Instead of returning raw biomass, like straw, back to the soil at the end of the growing season, farmers could take it to pyrolysis plants, where the biomass is heated at a very high temperature in an oxygen-free chamber to create biochar.

Biochar is a kind of solid charcoal, and studies have shown that applying it …

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