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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Bioproducts Research » Research » Research Project #428917

Research Project: Crop Soil Evaluation and Optimization

Location: Bioproducts Research

Project Number: 2030-41000-058-05-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 15, 2015
End Date: May 13, 2018

Objective:
• Evaluate value added soil amendments (mineral and organic) to reclaim spent farmland using agricultural and industrial waste products such as the silt/clay fraction of coal seams, quarry dust, sludge from waste water treatment plants, flash dried poultry manure and biochar made from agricultural waste streams and/or precision oxidized coals. • Evaluate the effectiveness of making biochar from different agricultural waste streams and the effect of starting material on plant growth. • Evaluate nutrient level of crops grown using amendments and microbial inoculants against non-additive controls. • Evaluate plant growth on highly sodic saline soils amended with above.

Approach:
• Grow monocots (grasses, wheat or rye) and dicots (spinach, carrots and/or tomatoes) in soils formulated from a California standard sandy loam soil as a control and spent, salinated soil from California. Amend soils with mineral, organic matter, with and without inoculation and maintenance of microbial communities and evaluate for improvements. • Evaluate soil formulations before and after harvest for pH, salinity, CEC, water holding capacity and drainage, mineral content, and lime (free calcium). Determine if the soil has improved in terms of mineral leaching (improvement in the CEC). • Evaluate soil amendments in terms of mineral analysis, primary and secondary mineral content, available nutrients based on soil conditions (pH and CEC) • Evaluate soil improvement based on plant weight (roots and shoots) as well as tissue culture analysis. • Evaluate the effects of starting material and processing parameters on biochar efficacy. • Evaluate in-row soil supplementation system for production of plants in saline soils and/or high value crops sensitive to native soils.