Biochar is the solid product that results from pyrolysis of organic materials. Its addition to highly weathered soils changes physico-chemical soil properties, improves soil functions and enhances crop yields. Highly weathered soils are typical of humid tropics where agricultural productivity is low and needs to be raised to reduce human hunger and poverty. However, impact of biochar research on scientists, politicians and end-users in poor tropical countries remains unknown; assessing needs and interests on biochar is essential to develop reliable knowledge transfer/translation mechanisms. The aim of this publication is to present results of a meta-analysis conducted to (1) survey global biochar research published between 2010 and 2014 to assess its relation to human development and environmental quality, and (2) deduce, based on the results of this analysis, priorities required to assess and promote the role of biochar in the development of adapted and sustainable agronomic methods. Our main findings reveal for the very first time that: (1) biochar research associated with less developed countries focused on biochar production technologies (26.5 ± 0.7%), then on biochars’ impact on chemical soil properties (18.7 ± 1.2%), and on plant productivity (17.1 ± 2.6%); (2) China dominated biochar research activities among the medium developed countries focusing on biochar production technologies (26.8 ± 0.5%) and on use of biochar as sorbent for organic and inorganic compounds (29.1 ± 0.4%); and (3) the majority of biochar research (69.0±2.9%) was associated with highly developed countries that are able to address a higher diversity of questions. Evidently, less developed countries are eager to improve soil fertility and agricultural productivity, which requires transfer and/or translation of biochar knowledge acquired in highly developed countries. Yet, improving local research capacities and encouraging synergies across scientific disciplines and countries are crucial to foster development of sustainable agronomy in less developed countries.
- Carbon sequestration
- Food security
- Plant productivity
- Soil fertility
- Sustainable development goals