The largest reason we still do not have a concrete understanding of charcoal's benefit is that research on biochar lives in academic journals instead of an aggregated database. Forage is working with the University of Washington School of Environmental Sciences and Socrata to launch an international open source collaborative research platform for biochar. The project is currently working with the following professors at six international universities:
- Johannes Lehmann, Professor, Department of Crop & Soil Sciences, Cornell University
- Kurt Spokas, Senior Scientist and Professor USDA-ARS, University of Minnesota
- Michael Gundale, Researcher, Department of Forest Ecology & Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
- Davey L. Jones, Professor, School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography, Bangor University
- David Laird, Professor, Iowa State University
- Thomas DeLuca, Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Washington
Through the creation of an open source collaborative research platform that compiles international academic studies on biochar, we can understand trends in biochar effectiveness by location. Instead of studies that range from one to three years and use several feedstocks and several soil types, aggregated research can become a dynamic data-set, providing increasing insight and accuracy over time. As an open-source system organized on a map-based platform, research studies can serve as market-testing results by location, allowing producers and customers to understand biochar’s benefits, or lack thereof, in regional soils.
The areas of collaborative data include: production method, soil enhancement, irrigation, microbial activity, CO2 sequestration, and nutrient density in food. The project will illustrate a coordinated research model that provides trend level insight into biochar's utility by location. This project serves as a model for how research from interdisciplinary institutions can become an open source platform, allowing macro insights into the issues facing our world in the age of climate change.