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Education and Research on the Sustainable Use of Resources with Biochar

Deutsche Bundesstiftung funds research project BodenBildungBerlin at Freie Universität

№ 339/2017 from Dec 11, 2017

As part of the “BodenBildungBerlin” research project, scientists from Freie Universität Berlin are investigating how biochar can be used to reduce the burden on the environment. They are developing methods for imparting skills and knowledge on the sustainable use of resources in training and continuing education. Model composting plants with biochar are being operated at three locations within the project. At these sites researchers determine data on the carbon and nutrient balance and the life cycle assessment, examine the quality of the substrates, and assess the economic potential of the commercialization of biochar substrate. The research project is being funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation for a period of 30 months.

As part of the research project, two different composting facilities will be set up at the Environmental Education Center Berlin (Umwelt-Bildungszentrum Berlin) and the Gutsgarten Hellersdorf. In addition, the researchers will use the existing composting and pyrolysis plant in the Botanic Garden Berlin. They will compost regional plant residues – foliage, green waste, vegetable and fruit waste – with biochar. “This procedure will close regional material cycles, save enormous disposal costs, make efficient use of resources, and prevent CO2 emissions,” explains program coordinator Dr. Bianca Schemel. The scientists will investigate the potential this process has for environmental relief by means of data including carbon and nutrient balance, life cycle assessment, and the study of substrate quality and plant growth. They will monitor the starting materials and end products of composting and pyrolysis to comply with the quality criteria and quality guidelines of the BundesGüteGemeinschaft Kompost e. V. nonprofit organization. The PrinzessinnenGartenBau company will found an earthworks in the Gutsgarten Hellersdorf and, in cooperation with the local horticultural farm Bebra and the Berliner Tafel food redistribution organization, will compost the plant residues of both. They will use the resulting biochar substrate to test marketing and sales and the economic potential.

To provide information about the great potential of biochar and biochar substrate and their positive effects on climate and soil, the researchers will design educational materials and hold workshops in the composting facilities in the Environmental Education Center Berlin, the Botanic Garden, and the Gutsgarten Hellersdorf. Classes will be offered for apprentices at the Environmental Education Center Berlin and the Peter-Lenné-Schule (secondary school for nature and environment, State Technical School for Horticulture Berlin). In addition, workshops will be developed for individuals working in horticultural and landscaping sectors, resource management, and park departments, as well as climate officers or farmers.

Further Information


  • Prof. Dr. mult. Dr. h. c. Konstantin Terytze, Department of Earth Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-70481, Email: konstantin.terytze@fu-berlin.de
  • Dr. Bianca Schemel, Department of Earth Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-63388, Email: bianca.schemel@fu-berlin.de