Most research on biochar has focused either on the mechanistic or the biophysical aspects, and there has been relatively little research into the social applicability and acceptance of biochar as a soil enhancer in agriculture. However, whether to adopt biochar in their practice is ultimately the farmers’ decision, and their willingness to do so is crucial. Here, we show the producer’s perspective on adopting biochar, using Polish farmers as a case study. Poland is an interesting case study because biochar has only recently attracted the attention of researchers, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders there. We performed standardized, semi-structured interviews with 161 Polish farmers to evaluate the socioeconomic potential of biochar application in practice. We found that 27% of the respondents claimed to be familiar with biochar. The respondents with a technical, non-agricultural level of education were most familiar with the term ‘biochar’ (36%), followed by the group of respondents with a higher-level agricultural education (31%). It was surprising that among the latter respondents, the majority (69%) did not know the term ‘biochar’, either in the context used for this study or in any other context. Twenty percent of the respondents expressed an interest in using biochar, while 43% were not willing to adopt it in their agricultural practice (37% ‘did not know yet’). If a farmer was familiar with the concept of sustainable agriculture, the probability of familiarity with biochar increased by 16% (p
< 0.05). In addition, farmers interested in using biochar indicated that sustainable agriculture might improve the financial situation of their farms (52%). The perceived benefits of biochar that drive the willingness to adopt it included improved soil quality and increased income due to increased yields, while the constraints on its adoption were associated mainly with high costs. Our results also point to the necessity of information flow as well as engaging farmers in participatory research to adjust the research to their needs. Furthermore, our results highlight the importance of transparency with the farmers and appropriate dissemination and presentation of both the positive and the negative aspects of biochar adoption. We urge those studying biochar to engage in more interdisciplinary research and to go beyond laboratory and field research. Many innovations, even those that work, will not be adopted if socioeconomic considerations are not incorporated into the research.
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