IMPROVING SOILS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT FOR MORE EFFICIENT WATER USE IN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research
Title: Carbon sequestration with biochar
Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 22, 2010
Publication Date: September 9, 2010
Citation: Busscher, W.J., Novak, J.M., Hunt, P.G., Cantrell, K.B., Ro, K.S. 2010. Carbon sequestration with biochar. 2010 Carbon Sequestration Workshop at the 65th International Annual Meeting of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, July 17-21, 2010, Saint Louis, Missouri.
Because biochars can be made out of most carbonaceous waste products, they can reduce waste and ameliorate soil problems while improving agricultural productivity of marginal soils. Biochars can be part of a continually renewable cycle of green farming. For the sandy soils of the SE Coastal Plain, they have the potential to reduce strength, improve water/nutrient holding capacities, and sequester carbon. Though organic matter, such as switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), can amend the soils, a climate of high temperature and moisture quickly breaks it down. A more recalcitrant source of organic carbon is biochar. Depending on its feedstock and production, biochars can have a half lives of a millennium or more; so care must be taken to add the one that will ameliorate soil problems and do no harm. Biochars tested in the lab to date generally decreased soil penetration resistance, weakly aggregation soil, and increase water-holding capacities. Some chemical properties such as pH require care when adding biochars to soils. Continued studies will look at other sources of biochar feedstocks including manure, sorghum, bagasse, miscanthus, and forest litter.