Dr Robert Barker (Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science) and Dr Anastasios Tsaousis (School of Biosciences) will be working with Re-generation Earth on a project to use biochar from farm waste to lock carbon into soils, thanks to over £420,000 funding from Growing Kent and Medway.
Biochar is an ancient technology that this project is looking to bring into the 21st Century. Instead of burning farm waste, such as hedge clippings or tree prunings, it can be converted into biochar. The biochar is a pure form of carbon that can be applied to the land and improve soil health. This research will examine both the impact on the carbon locked into soils and improvements to soil fertility. The project hopes to increase crop land productivity while limiting atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Dr Anastasios Tsaousis said: ‘This is a pioneer project that combines a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the effects of regenerative agriculture in gas emissions. We are really excited to work with Re-Generation, which will allow us to built a living lab in their premises, but also to collect and analyse data in real time. This is a unique opportunity for us as academics since we will be able to understand the (micro)biological impact behind the implementation of regenerative agriculture. Finally, we hope that this project will allow us to attract more farmers from the region to implement some of these practices.’
Re-generation Earth is based in Sittingbourne and works with landowners to develop projects using their natural assets, like soils, waterways or hedgerows, to identify where they can capture more C0² and increase biodiversity commercially.
Doug Wanstall, Advisor, Re-generation Earth said: ‘We tapped into the Growing Kent & Medway funding because we wanted to build an alliance with the University of Kent. We have some good practical ideas we want to develop and demonstrate, but we really want to add the academic verification to that.’
The successful grant is part of over £1m in funding from Growing Kent & Medway, awarded to six innovative projects in Kent that will make horticultural and plant-based food and drink production more sustainable. The grants were awarded through UK Research and Innovation’s Strength In Places Fund. Each project is a collaboration with a Kent-based research organisation.
The projects were assessed on evidence they would support businesses transitions to net-zero, deliver improved productivity and sustainability in food and drink production, and support regional economic prosperity. Read the full release from Growing Kent and Medway here.