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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » People » Kurt Spokas » Biochar Research Plots

Rosemount Biochar Research Plots


The initial plots were established in Fall of 2008 at the University of Minnesota (UMN) Research and Outreach Center in Rosemount, MN. These plots are part of a multi-location effort within the USDA-ARS (including Kimberly, ID; Prosser, WA; Big Springs, TX; Bowling Green, KY; and Ames, IA) to determine the impact of a fast pyrolysis biochar derived from hardwood sawdust (Dynamotive C-QuestTM) on crop growth, yield and soil C under a no-till continuous corn rotation. 


Each individual plot measures 4.88 m on a side (16' x 16') with a 3-m (10') buffer zone between plots. Four treatments are being evaluated at each location using a completely randomized design with three replications (see figure below): (i) control (C, no amendment), (ii) biochar (B), (iii) biochar plus manure (BM), and (iv) manure (M). Biochar was applied at 22,460 kg ha-1 (20,000 lb ac-1). The manure rate is specified by best management practice (BMP) at each location. 



Unique to the Minnesota location, three other biochar treatments, derived from macadamia nut (MN), wood pellet (CE), and lump hardwood charcoal (CB), are also being evaluated (above figure). Rates for these biochar amendments match the above multi-location effort at 22,460 kg ha-1 (20,000 lb ac-1). In addition to the existing treatments, six new treatments will be established in 2011-2012 consisting of 3 non-charred and 3 charred (i.e., biochar) residues derived from three different sources: corn stover, manure, and (for a total of 18 new plots; F1-F6).