From rhetoric to reality: farmer perspectives on the economic potential of biochar in China

Abbie Clare, Andrew Barnes, John Mcdonagh, Simon Shackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Biochar has garnered much attention for its potential to improve farming productivity and sustainability by amending soil, enhancing crop yields, improving fertilizer use efficiency and sequestering carbon. However, few publications consider farmer perspectives on whether biochar is attractive as an agricultural input. This paper therefore investigates the micro-economics and social suitability of biochar in four contrasting Chinese agricultural systems, using linear optimization models and qualitative contextual data. Results demonstrate that commercially produced biochar is uneconomic as an independent farming input, whilst farm-produced biochar shows promise in just one of four case-study sites. This suggests that biochar research in China should shift away from on-farm production and application of pure biochar, towards combined biochar-inorganic fertilizer products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-458
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014

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