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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Overview
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1 - Cover Crops
2 - Conservation Tillage
3 - Organic Potato Production
4 - BioEnergy Research-Oilseeds: Biodiesel
5 - BioEnergy Research-Perennial Biomass Crops: Ethanol
6 - BioEnergy Research-Biochar
BioEnergy Research-Biochar



Influence of Biochar on Soil pH, Water Holding Capacity, Nitrogen and Carbon Dynamics:

The thermo-chemical conversion (pyrolysis) of plant biomass is being evaluated by ARS for its potential to produce second generation liquid biofuels and the co-product biochar, which can be used as a soil amendment. Biochar was found to improve soil pH, water holding capacity (WHC) and soil C pools. In irrigated production systems, appropriate choice of biochar feedstock could increase soil WHC and reduce either the frequency or amount of irrigation.


Remediation of Phosphorus from Dairy Lagoon Waters using Biochar:

Estimates of animal manures produced in the United States by feedlot cattle, dairy cattle and swine exceeds 78 million tons annually. ARS-Prosser developed a strategy to utilize dairy waste as an alternative energy and fertilizer source. The fiber component exiting an anaerobic digester was used as a feedstock to produce bio-gas or bio-oil under low temperature pyrolysis. The co-product, biochar was applied to dairy waste water to remove nutrients. Our approach resulted in the removal of >32% of the P from the dairy effluent. Dairies in Washington State could produce 230,000 tons of biochar a year from manure.

Phosphorous Uptake by Potato from Biochar Coated with Anaerobic Digested Effluent: Removal of nutrients by biochar from dairy storage lagoons and use as a supplemental fertilizer off site is a beneficial strategy to reduce nutrient contamination around dairies and supply nutrients in potato production. Biochar amended with dairy effluent applied at 2.5 T per acre maintained recommended soluble P levels (1000 ppm) in Ranger and Umatilla potato variety petioles through 60 days after emergence. Biochar amended-P from dairy lagoons can be used successfully as a P fertilizer supplement in potato production. Secondary benefits of biochar additions improve soil pH, water holding capacity and soil C pools.


2011 Biochar

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Last Modified: 4/5/2012
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