IMPROVING SOILS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT FOR MORE EFFICIENT WATER USE IN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research
Title: Biochar addition to a USA SE sandy coastal soil to sequester carbon and improve physical properties
Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 22, 2008
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Citation: Busscher, W.J., Novak, J.M., Ahmenda, M., Watts, D.W., Evans, D.E. 2008. Biochar addition to a USA SE sandy coastal soil to sequester carbon and improve physical properties. In: Proceedings of Soils 2008: Soil-The Living Skin of Plant Earth Conference, December 1-5, 2008, Palmerston North, New Zealand. 2008 Thumb Drive.
Because southeastern USA coastal plain hardpan soils are sandy and exposed to a subtropical environment, they have low organic carbon, little aggregation, and potentially low infiltration. Since these soils need organic carbon, they are prime candidates for carbon sequestration. However, increasing organic carbon by conventional methods has been ineffective because it vanishes within a few months in the warm, wet environment. Organic carbon in the form of charcoal or biochar is recalcitrant having remained in tropical Amazonian soils for centuries. In a lab experiment, we added non-activated biochar that was produced in a retort at 700 degrees C. Switchgrass was added to Ap horizon of Norfolk loamy sand, a coastal sandy acrisol, at a rate of 1% on a weight basis. Biochar was added to treatments with and without switchgrass at rates of 0, 0.5, 1, and 2% on a weight basis. Switchgrass and biochar amendments did not show any consistently significant improvements for aggregation or water holding capacities. The treatment with either amendment had higher infiltration than those without amendment. Soil cone indices were lower for the higher level of biochar added; biochar showed a relationship of decreasing soil strength with increasing biochar content. Biochar also increased soil carbon contents.