1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Evaluating different biochars and their impact on soil C, trace gas exchange and
agrochemical fate and transport.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
This agreement is for establishing the collaboration between Best Energies and USDA-ARS to allow different feedstock and operating conditions on a pyrolysis plant to be evaluated on the impacts of the resulting biochar for soil amendments. This will entail a combination of field and laboratory research on the impact of various biochars on soil microbial processes, agrochemical transport and trace gas exchange. Best Energies will provide the production data on the biochar along with the biochar itself for the research. Laboratory incubations will assess the immediate impacts and field scale plot research would be conducted to evaluate the long-term (>3 years) effects in a continuous corn rotation in Minnesota. The main goal of the research is to examine if the combination of altering feed stocks or production parameters can result in a biochar that is more beneficial from a C sequestration perspective as well as an agent for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and agrochemical losses from the agricultural soil system.
This was the last year of this agreement and the following items have been initiated:
1. Best Energies did supply sufficient biochar from a slow pyrolysis process from their plant in Australia to apply to triplicate field plots (16’ x 16’) in Rosemount, MN. These field plots are evaluating the impacts of the biochar on a continuous no-till corn production in the Upper Midwest. The biochar was applied in the fall of 2009 and was incorporated by rotary tillage (rototiller). The third year of field data is being collected which includes: greenhouse gas fluxes, seedling emergence, grain yield, biomass production, and soil moisture/temperature differences between control and the biochar treated plots.
2. Laboratory incubations have been established with the biochar to evaluate lab derived GHG production rates to compare to field observations.
This project relates directly to Objective 1a of the Farming Practices for the Northern Corn Belt to Protect Soil Resources, Support Biofuel Production and Reduce Global Warming Potential research project by determining farming practices that have the potential of reducing GHG emissions at the plot level through biochar additions.