Almost everybody is aware of global warming and that carbon emissions are a big issue. A recent report by Dr. Johannes Lehman of Cornell University titled “Biochar reduces nasty nitrous oxide emissions on farms” highlights a significant but under-reported issue and a new potential solution.
“Carbon Dioxide has a quiet but strong partner in climate warming crime – nitrous oxide. This nasty gas is usually produced on farms from animal manure waste and the use of synthetic fertilizer. In fact, nitrous oxide in agricultural soil has 298 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide.”
In an urban environment, we are not worried about confined animal feeding operations, but we are still contributors to nitrous oxide production. Every compost system that is not working right (carbon to nitrogen ratios, moisture levels, etc.,) can be contributing nitrous oxide into the air. While each residence may be contributing only a small amount, collectively we are responsible for a significant quantity. Our ‘resident’ potential will continue to increase as more residents consider composting systems and even grey water systems.
What the research team at Cornell discovered was that no matter the soil type or the biochar type used by scientists, a universal truth emerged: the emission of nitrous oxide was always reduced on average by about 55 percent, compared to benign nitrogen gas.
Microbial Earth Farms (MEF) offers a variety of products that help to address this problem, including biochar, and even better, fermented biochar. MEF has long been aware of the potential for bokashi to reduce methane emissions in food scraps as well as in chicken houses, and now when combined with biochar, we are expecting significantly less emissions than bokashi alone. See our Bokashi Plus product. This is important because it can also extend the life of poultry bedding and/or compost worm bedding in urban situations.