Developing future bio-fertilisers: benchmarking hydrochar’s carbon and nitrogen footprint using novel isotope techniques

Developing future bio-fertilisers

This project is one of CAB’s 2020 Future Leaders Funding opportunities.

Hydrothermal carbonisation is a promising and innovative process to convert bio-solid waste into hydrochar, a valuable bio-fertiliser, creating new revenue streams in Queensland’s emerging bioeconomy. The application of this new product at a broad agricultural scale demands a quantitative understanding of hydrochar’s effects on soil nutrient availability, soil carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions.

This project will use state of the art stable-isotope methods to produce 15Nitrogen-13Carbon dual-labelled hydrochar as a novel approach to trace nitrogen and carbon cycling in agricultural soils. The dual-labelled hydrochar will be tested in a series of soil microcosm trials, demonstrating fundamental effects of hydrochar on nitrogen loss and retention, the contribution of hydrochar to long-term carbon storage and the production of greenhouse gases. Quantifying the carbon and nitrogen footprint of hydrochar will benchmark the benefits of this promising bio-fertiliser, promoting its wider adoption across a broad range of agricultural industries.

Chief Investigators