LU biochar research expands across the globe

Students at Lincoln are now testing the effectiveness of biochar in soil enzymes.

In November, KRCG 13 revealed new research happening at Lincoln University about a natural plant product called biochar that helps soil retain water.

Doctor Raimund Bayan and his students have expanded their research to another university across the globe.

Biochar starts as a natural plant mass, such as pine chunks or piles of miscanthus grass.

Those plant masses are heated using a double barrel method between 400 and 600 degrees celsius; the result is biochar.

Dr. Raimund Bayan, a professor at Lincoln University, discovered that biochar would help plants hold moisture longer, therefore increasing plant yield and overall health of the plant.

In the last few months, Bayan and his students have learned even more about biochar.

"We are now testing the effect of biochar on soil enzyme activities. It is important for us to know how biochar behaves in the soil environment. Soil enzymes are sensitive to any changes within the soil," said Bayan.

The result? Lab testing shows that biochar doesn't inhibit soil enzymes in their environment, which is good news if you want to continually use biochar in your garden.

The future of biochar is about to expand thanks to Bayan's work. Lincoln is teaming up with Kazan Federal University in Russia to create a center of excellence in biochar research.

"It is the only institution that has committed itself to biochar research in Russia because of the work that's being done at Lincoln University," said Bayan.

The Swiss have started using biochar in drywall to remove odors from the interior walls.

Lincoln students are now studying how the use of biochar interacts with diseased plants or insects.

"In Russia, we have started using biochar in pharmaceutical research. Like the association or interaction of antibiotics with biochar, and how biochar is capable of releasing antibiotics slowly into the intestines so they won't be flushed out of the bloodstream quickly so they would be more effective."

So what's next for this developing field?

A center for excellence right here in the Capital City.

"I'm working on a proposal now to apply for funds from the United States Department of Agriculture that has been very supportive of this research at Lincoln University. As soon as we get the funds we have the approval of the administration the center is going to be declared and we're going to go public with it."

Bayan hopes to collaborate with students in Canada, Australia, China, and Switzerland in the near future.

Bayan continues his work with the NEEED project, which has been established to eventually help feed the hungry through the use of biochar in a future community garden.