Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2008
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Crop residues return plant nutrients to soils and are critically important for nutrient cycling, maintaining levels of soil organic matter, and stabilizing soil structure. Removal of crop residues for use as feedstock for bioenergy production could adversely impact soil quality, reduce net energy production efficiency, and ultimately reduce biomass production. Processing biomass by pyrolysis and returning the biochar co-product to the soil may mitigate many of these adverse effects. A one-year soil column study using Clarion Loam amended with 0, 5, 10 and 20 g-biochar/kg-soil and leached weekly with 0.005 M CaCl2 indicated that biochar amendments reduced soil bulk density, NO3 leaching after manure application, and emissions of N2O, while enhancing soil respiration. Results for this and other studies suggest that biochar amendments will return most of the nutrients that were in the harvested biomass to the soil and will enhance soil quality by stabilizing soil structure and increasing nutrient-use efficiency. Soil biochar amendments are an effective means of sequestering C, thus the cost of soil biochar amendments could be partly or fully offset through the sale of C credits.