Soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management

Program or topic

Cornell Soil Biogeochemistry and Soil Fertility Management Program

Department(s) or unit(s)

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

Contact information

Johannes Lehmann
Professor, Crop and Soil Science

Program goals

To study soil biogeochemistry with a focus on soil organic matter as it relates to climate change, bio-energy, and sustainable agriculture.

Brief Description

With atmospheric carbon dioxide levels being the highest in 420,000 years, efforts to mitigate anthropogenic greenhouse effects are of greater importance than ever before. The global carbon cycle has attracted wide attention due to its importance for the global climate. The release or sequestration of carbon in soils is of prime importance. Johannes Lehmann is addressing these issues with his research on black carbon dynamics and the climate-soil feedback as well as on applications of “biochar” as a stable carbon compound to improve infertile soils and bio-energy production. Using this form of soil recapture, called biochar- or bio-sequestration, Lehmann has shown the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by turning bioenergy into a carbon-negative energy with the potential to sequester about 10 percent of the annual US fossil-fuel emissions of 1.6 billion tons of carbon.

For more information


Johannes Lehmann’s Home Page

Cornell Soil Biogeochemistry and Soil Fertility Management Program

Terra Preta de Indio (Amazonian Dark Earths)

Key publications:

  • Whitman T, and Lehmann J 2011 Systematic under- and overestimation of GHG reductions in renewable biomass systems. Climatic Change 104, 415-422.
  • Whitman T, Nicholson CF, Torres D, Lehmann J 2011 Climate change impact of biochar cook stoves in Western Kenyan farm households: System dynamics model analysis. Environmental Science and Technology 45, 3687-3694.
  • Roberts K, Gloy B, Joseph S, Scott N and Lehmann J 2010 Life cycle assessment of biochar systems: Estimating the energetic, economic and climate change potential. Environmental Science and Technology 44, 827–833.
  • Woolf D, Amonette JE, Street-Perrott FA, Lehmann J and Joseph S 2010 Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change. Nature Communications 1:56.

Category: Agriculture/Farming, Soil/fertilizer/manure

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