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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOILS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT FOR MORE EFFICIENT WATER USE IN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

Title: Evaluation of designer biochars to ameliorate select chemical and physical characteristics of degraded soils

Authors
item Novak, Jeffrey
item Busscher, Warren

Submitted to: American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 21, 2009
Publication Date: November 9, 2009
Citation: Novak, J.M., Busscher, W.J. 2009. Evaluation of designer biochars to ameliorate select chemical and physical characteristics of degraded soils. In: Proceedings of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting, November 8-13, 2009, Nashville, Tennessee. 7 pp.

Technical Abstract: Sandy Coastal Plain soils of the southeastern US have low water holding capacities that can reduce crop yields. Water holding capacities and thus potential yields can be improved by amendments of soils with biochar if it has the right characteristics. Biochars were produced by slow and fast pyrolysis out of peanut hulls, poultry litter, pecan shells, hardwood and switchgrass at temperatures ranging from 250 to 700 degrees Celsius. Biochar mass recoveries were determined along with their physical and chemical characteristics. These were mixed at 2% (weight per weight) with Norfolk Ap loamy sand and were laboratory incubated for up to 120 days. Higher pyrolysis temperatures resulted in lower biochar mass recoveries and smaller oxygen to carbon and hydrogen to carbon ratios, but greater percentages of ash, and higher pH values. Leaching soils with deionized water revealed that biochar type significantly influenced soil moisture contents. Biochar made from switchgrass at 500 degrees Celsius caused the Norfolk loamy sand to have the highest moisture content and to remain wetter for a longer time period. Biochars can be designed through alteration of feedstock and pyrolysis conditions to significantly improve the Norfolk’s water holding capacity. [GRACEnet Publication]

Last Modified: 4/19/2014