agricultural landscape

Project: The potential of biochar in a circular agriculture

The aim of this project is to investigate how the addition of biochar to arable land can affect the soil's ability to retain nutrients, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus.

Project information

Project manager
Anna Augustsson
Other project members
Ann-Mari Fransson, Joacim Rosenlund, Changxun Yu, Linnaeus University; Gun Lindberg, Dennis Wiström, Anders Fröberg, Västervik Municipality
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University; Campus Västervik, Västervik Municipality
Västervik Municipality
1 Jan 2021–31 Dec 2024
Environmental Science (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

The past century’s anthropogenic activities have resulted, among other things, in high loads of pollutants (nutrients, metals, organic contaminants) from land to sea. Coastal areas are of particular interest here since they 1) harbor most of the global population, resulting in particularly high releases of pollutants per km2, and 2) have a minimal buffering zone for potential nutrient and contaminant capture before different freshwater flows are discharged into the ocean. So, we urgently need to identify measures that can reduce pollutant mobilization and mitigate the negative effects on aquatic ecosystems and human health.

This licentiate project is linked to the Vinnova-funded project “Rest till Bäst” (, where the aim is to use organic waste materials (park and garden waste, sewage sludge, seed residues and seaweed) to produce biochar that can be used, for example, to clean urban waste water and as an additive to agricultural land. Biochar is received through pyrolysis; a process where organic material is subjected to high temperatures under anoxic conditions. Biochar has gained considerable attention in recent years both due to its potential to reduce nutrient leaching and increase fertility of agricultural soils, and due to its capacity to adsorb pollutants.

The licentiate project is carried out in collaboration between Linnaeus University, Campus Västervik and Västervik Municipality. Here, we study the potential of biochar to reduce nutrient leakage from agriculturand land in coastal areas, with Västervik municipality as the study area. It is mainly done through a large field experiment, where different biochar amendments are applied over a number of subareas (each 200 m long and 10 m wide in the direction of the groundwater of) of a 36,000 m2 large test field. To monitor the effects of the different treatments over time, drainage pipes are installed at ca 1 m depth of under all subareas for the continuous collection of drainage water. This experiment will be complemented with a lab experiment, where a larger number of agricultural soils are mixed with different kinds of biochar, and at different doses.