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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Evaluating Different Biochars and Their Impact on Soil C, Trace Gas Exchange, Soil Fertility, Water Holding Capacity and Agrochemical Fate

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Evaluating different biochars and their impact on the soil system.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
This agreement is for establishing the collaboration between Avello Bioenergy, Inc. 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, conducted at St. Paul, MN as well as other ARS locations. Avello Bioenergy 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 and other ARS locations. 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.


3.Progress Report

Avello Bioenergy, Inc. is interested in pursuing funding opportunities for biochar research and has already been involved in linking with industrial partners and other research groups in the emerging biochar research field. The Soil and Water Management Research unit in St. Paul, MN has an ongoing research program evaluating different biochars and their impact on soil C, trace gas exchange and agrochemical fate and transport. This research is a shared interest for both parties. To date, Avello Bioenergy has supplied a limited quantity of biochar (oak biochar from slow pyrolysis @ 500 oC) for use in the on-going laboratory incubations examining the impacts of biochar on the greenhouse gas production potentials. These incubations are ongoing and no data is available currently. 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 of the parent research project by determining farming practices that have the potential of reducing GHG emissions at the plot level through biochar additions. Methods of monitoring this project have included discussing project plans via email and teleconferences.


Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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