Project Articles


Championing Safer Urban Farming with Biochar Innovation

At United Renewables, we know that sustainability is more than just a buzzword. It’s the key to a brighter future, and ensuring safe and productive soil quality is paramount. We are always at the forefront of sustainable solutions, and we have recently proudly supported groundbreaking research into the transformative potential of biochar in urban farming.

The Research Landscape
Jennifer Newell, an esteemed postgraduate researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, embarked on an in-depth exploration of urban agroecology. Her focus was the Lower Botanic Gardens in South Belfast, a location emblematic of urban spaces with a rich history and potential challenges due to past industrial activities.

Biochar: The Game-Changer
Biochar, a charred organic matter recognised for its contaminant adsorption properties, was the star of this research. Newall, understanding its potential, facilitated the integration of biochar into the urban soil, aiming to observe its impact on vegetable growth and safety.

The Experiment in Focus
Within the controlled environment of a polytunnel, Newall meticulously planted a range of vegetables in both biochar-amended and control soils. Preliminary results showcased a remarkable difference, especially in the yield of the lettuce grown with biochar – a testament to its efficacy.

Navigating Challenges
Every innovation journey encounters challenges. From unpredictable weather patterns to natural pests, this research faced its fare share of hurdles. Yet, with resilience and the backing of United Renewables, the project adapted and showcased promising outcomes.

Laboratory Revelations
A state-of-the-art lab setup, designed to mimic the human digestive system, was employed to further understand the benefits of biochar. Initial findings are optimistic, suggesting that biochar could be pivotal in reducing risks associated with certain soil contaminants.

The Harvest Insight
The first harvest, particularly the ‘Salad bowl’ lettuce, not only demonstrated an enhanced yield but also underscored the potential of biochar in promoting safer urban produce consumption. With further tests on the horizon, United Renewables remains committed to supporting and sharing these transformative findings.

United Renewables, as a beacon of sustainable innovation, is proud to be part of this pioneering journey in urban agriculture. With the power of biochar, we envision a future where urban farming is not only sustainable but also safer and more productive.


Read the original article written by Jennifer Newall and Published by The Queen’s University Belfast

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