July 14 | 2021

Joining consortium to develop Biochar

Biological Charcoal Compost

Black to the future (BTF) is a research project to develop an advanced mix of biological charcoal (biochar) and compost with the goal to reduce soil depletion, increase carbon capture, and improve yield quality. The biochar and compost are obtained from agricultural residues in a circular network where farmers are both feedstock producers and product end users. The co-maturation of this compost and biochar will lead to a ‘CB mix’. The CB mix is compliant with the new EU Fertilising Product Regulation.

The CB mix is designed to improve the properties of soil, especially in terms of nutrient retention and drought resistance. This will benefit both yield quality and quantity. The consortium will target crops such as grapevine, olive, and pomegranate – which produce significant amounts of clippings and biowaste during post-harvest management. The waste will be obtained from these waste streams within a participatory network. Both Farmers and the agro-industry will be able to supply the waste used for the CB mix, within an innovative bio-deposit-return scheme.

Besides the open field and network advantages, indoor hydroponic cultivation is an important part of the project. For this part of the research, all tests will be conducted in the Research Centre of Urban Crop Solutions. In the first phase, crop growth performance using a CB mix in microgreens, baby leaves and herbs will be tested. In the second phase, the impact of using a CB mix on crop and yield quality will be assessed. The objective is to quantify at least two physiological parameters to qualify the BC mix as successful.

The consortium consists of a unique partnership between Urban Crop Solutions – an end-to-end indoor vertical farming solutions provider; Caviro – a wine cooperative in Italy; Enomondo – a company located in North Italy, who will be managing the compost production; the Crop Production Research Centre (CRPV) – a cooperative company located in the North of Italy; the National Council of Scientific Research (CSIC) – the Spanish state agency for scientific research and technological development; the University of Bologna (UNIBO); and the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT).