Cornell Biochar and Compost Facilities

Upper level in biochar facility in Cornell 360
Project Status
Stevenson Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Cornell University

The need to maintain healthy agricultural soils has never been greater as we face the challenges of climate change and feeding an expanding human population.

At Cornell, sustainability is a guiding principal across campus. Education, research, and public activities all implement sustainable practices. It is also an integral part of Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for reaching carbon neutrality by 2035. Cornell is exploring new options for their organic wastes, and finding solutions using slow pyrolysis to create biochar, and composting. Researchers are studying the benefits of using biochar and compost as soil amendments. Both biochar and compost can help renew depleted soils while diverting waste from landfills. Together, these practices fight food insecurity.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), solid waste landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane in the United States. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) and emissions can be cut by reducing materials sent to landfills. Diverting waste to biochar and compost may reduce overall methane production. Biochar and compost can have the added benefit of storing carbon.

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“Soil is fundamental to humans and we’re losing this stuff. Char is a way of reinvigorating depleted soils, of preserving or improving existing soils, managing or sustaining agricultural yields in the face of not so great climatic conditions. Char can improve nutrient use efficiency, water holding capacity of the soil… this is moving forward.” - Akio Enders, Cornell University

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