Grassley introduces bill to create biochar research network

By Erin Voegele | September 20, 2022

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; John Thune, R-S.D.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Jon Tester, D-Mont., on Sept. 20 introduced the Biochar Research Network Act. Companion legislation was introduced by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, on July 29.

The legislation aims to establish a national biochar research network to test the impact of biochar across various soil types, application methods and climates to learn more about its capacity to benefit farmers and the environment. The includes work to understand productive uses for biochar to help with crop production and climate mitigation; to assess biochar’s potential for soil carbon sequestration; and deliver cost-effective and practical information to farmers on sustainable biochar production and application.

The network would be created by USDA and include up to 20 research stations or facilities. The bill authorizes the appropriation of $50 million per fiscal year for fiscal years 2023 through 2028 to support the initiative.

“Biochar possesses the unique ability to improve the quality of soil while also sequestering carbon,” Grassley said. “With additional research, biochar could provide farmers with a low-cost solution for boosting their yields by keeping soil fertile for a longer period of time. A lot of work remains to fully understand the benefits biochar could provide, and that’s why I’m honored to lead the introduction of the Biochar Research Network Act to expand research into this potentially transformative tool.”

“I applaud the introduction of the Biochar Research Network Act,” said David Laird, professor emeritus of soil science at Iowa State University. “The research it enables will pave the way for a new industry that creates jobs and opportunity across rural Iowa producing biochar and next generation biofuel.”

A full text copy of the legislation can be downloaded from Grassley’s website