Integrated biochar solutions can achieve carbon-neutral staple crop production

Longlong Xia, Liang Cao, Yi Yang, Chaopu Ti, Yize Liu, Pete Smith, Kees-Jan Van Groenigen, Johannes Lehmann, Rattan Lal, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, Ralf Kiese, Minghao Zhuang* (Corresponding Author), Xi Lu* (Corresponding Author), Xiaoyuan Yan* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Agricultural food production is a main driver of global greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions with unclear pathways towards carbon neutrality. Here, through a
comprehensive life-cycle assessment using data from China, we show that an integrated biomass pyrolysis and electricity generation system coupled with commonly applied methane and nitrogen mitigation measures can help reduce staple crops' life-cycle GHG emissions from the current 666.5 to -37.9 Tg CO2-eq yr−1 50 . Emission reductions would be achieved primarily through carbon sequestration from biochar application to the soil, and fossil fuels displacement by bio-energy produced from pyrolysis. We estimate that this integrated system can increase crop yield by 8.3%, decrease reactive nitrogen losses by 25.5%, lower air pollutant emissions by 125–2483 Gg yr−1 54 , and enhance net environmental and economic benefits by 36.2%. These results indicate that integrated biochar solutions could contribute to China's 2060 carbon neutrality objective while enhancing food security and environmental sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Food
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023


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