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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To design biochar as a soil amendment to improve the physico-chemical characteristics of Coastal Plain soils.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Biochar will be made from different feedstock material along with different thermal and chemical activation conditions to produce specific chemical/physical biochar characteristics. The biochars will be designed to allow its eluviation from the surface horizon into subsurface hard layers. Each designed biochar's sorption and leaching characteristics in sandy soil will be evaluated using standard isotherms and laboratory incubation techniques.

3. Progress Report:
This research addresses inhouse project objective 1: whereby biochars can be produced with specific chemical and physical properties that can target specific soil quality deficiencies. Biochars, a charcoal-like material, are capable of serving as a soil amendment to improve soil quality and tilth. However, one biochar type will not successfully modify soil quality issues in all soils. Designer biochars were produced by manipulating feedstock ratios, pyrolysis temperatures, and biochar particle size. The effectiveness of these designer biochars at modifying select soil problems was addressed in laboratory pot incubation studies. Some designer biochars were more effective at modifying soil water and nutrient retention, their particle size influenced release of plant nutrients, and others were best served as amendments for increasing soil carbon sequestration. These results establish that pre-selection of feedstocks and thermal conditions can create biochars capable of delivering effective service with modifying targeted soil quality deficiencies.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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