Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Forage Seed and Cereal Research » Research » Research Project #431387

Research Project: Formosa Mine Project: Amending Metals Contaminated Mine Soil with Biochar and Other Amendments to Facilitate Soil Remediation

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

Project Number: 2072-12620-001-01-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2015
End Date: Jul 31, 2020

Objective:
Produce a comprehensive set of biochars from a variety of (local) feedstocks with a range of properties, and through a targeted series of tests using soil from the Formosa Mine Superfund site (Riddle, OR), identify biochar(s) with the most potential to improve soil fertility, acidity, and water relations, and reestablish native plant communities.

Approach:
We will follow a 6 step approach: 1. Formosa Mine soil collection and characterization: Collect and characterize on-site soils for subsequent plot establishment. 2. Soil extraction using simulated rainwater or EPA Method 1312: Characterization of the extractant for pH, salt content, dissolved organic carbon, and metals. 3. Biochar production: Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) wood chips, Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) wood chips, beetle-killed lodgepole (Pinus contorta) pine chips, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), Tall fescue (Schedonorus phoenix), Giant reed (Arundo donax), Blue wild rye (Elymus glaucus), Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), anaerobically digested fiber, spent brewer’s grain, and Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) shells will be pyrolyzed at 300, 500 and 700 °C. 4. Biochar Characterization for altering soil and soil-water properties: Aforementioned biochars will be mixed with either soil or soil filtrates to observe biochar effects on pH, salt content, dissolved organic carbon, and metals. 5. Greenhouse biochar plant growth studies: California brome (Bromus carinatus) and Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa) will be grown in soil amended with a low, medium, and high rate of biochar. Plants will be grown in pvc tubes that allow leachate to be collected. Plants will be grown to full maturity. The rhizosphere microbial community will be analyzed using traditional and emerging microbiological techniques. 6. Field-scale trials: Field scale trials will be established based on the above findings. In addition, biochar made from Kentucky bluegrass seed screenings will be used, as this has been shown to improve soil pH and facilitate plant growth in soils from the location. Plant growth, soil temperature, moisture, pH, salt content, dissolved organic carbon, and metals will be determined.