UK councils wanted for groundbreaking soil carbon capture project

North West England-based firm Positive BioCarbon is looking to work with UK local authorities in a bid to re-fertilise farmland by improving soil carbon capture capacity. 

Biochar was first practiced by indigenous tribes in the South American rainforest thousands of years ago. Using a process known as pyrolysis, a charcoal-like substance applied to the land converts organic biomass into stable soil carbon, with one tonne of the material capable of storing three tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). 

soil carbon capture scheme

Suitable for application in agricultural settings, and on building materials, the captured emissions can be stored for hundreds of years, making this one of the most commercially-viable near-term solutions to carbon removal. 

Positive BioCarbon now wants to partner with local authorities across Britain to engage with this era-spanning technique in a bid to help speed up efforts to reach net zero. The firm has already been working with Lancashire County Council on two sites – Chisnall Hall, Chorley, and Midgeland Farm, close to Blackpool.

In total, six hectares of farmland have been included in the pilot scheme to boost soil carbon capture. Over a period of 10-13 years, the land has potential to capture and store the same amount of CO2 that a broadleaf woodland covering the same area would in 50 years.  

‘Industry and academia have been applying Biochar to a huge variety of soils, crops, agroforestry, and substrates applications for years. As such, Biochar is generally viewed as a soil improvement tool that can sequester carbon whilst improving soil health by retaining nutrients and water,’ said James MacPhail, Biochar consultant at Positive BioCarbon. ‘Every country, every business, and every local governing authority has carbon reduction targets to meet – Biochar could be a powerful tool in climate action to achieve these goals.’

According to the Office of National Statistics, 66% of the UK now believe it is vital for businesses to do more to help customers reduce climate impact. 95% of local authorities in the country have declared a climate emergency, and two-thirds of councils are hoping to reach net zero emissions by 2030 – a goal that is only possible with rapid upscaling of existing schemes, the introduction of new policy, and collaborative efforts on the part of people, public and private sectors. 

Image: Dylan de Jonge

More on farming and emissions:

Ashden Awards for climate solutions reveals 2023 shortlist

Green Finance Institute publishes roadmap for farming transition

Fertiliser emissions could be reduced 80% by 2050

New technology could combine land for farming and solar


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