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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #292054

Title: Know your community - Biochar: agronomic and environmental uses community

item Spokas, Kurt
item Novak, Jeffrey

Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/9/2013
Publication Date: 4/2/2013
Citation: Spokas, K.A., Novak, J.M. 2013. Know your community - Biochar: agronomic and environmental uses community. CSA News. 58:25.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The “Biochar: Agronomic and Environmental Uses” Community was formed in November 2010 ( The community’s initial function has been providing a forum at the tri-society’s national meetings to fill the need for a scientific organization focused on the environmental and agronomic impacts of biochar, particularly related to soil applications. Fundamentally, biochar is the solid residual produced from the chemical and/or thermal alteration of biomass, which focuses on the residue serving as a C sequestration agent. Simultaneously, biochar has been promoted as a means to improve soil fertility and productivity. Biochar is gathering both scientific and popular interest due to its dual roles in bioenergy (energy from the biomass pyrolysis) and carbon sequestration potential (biochar). There is also considerable global interest in using biochar to revitalize worn-out, unproductive soils. Biochar use as a soil amendment, however, does have some issues considering that not all biochars or soils are equal. Therefore, there is a need to develop recommendations for successful biochar use in agronomic systems as well as provide scientific data for US and international policy guidelines. By looking at the past number of papers presented in our community’s sessions at the annual meetings, one can see the growth from 12 in 2011 to 49 papers presented in 2012. We are optimistic that the numbers will continue to grow in 2013. For this year’s meeting in Tampa (Nov. 3-6), the community is organizing a total of five sessions - 4 oral sessions and a poster session: 1. Biochar Impacts on Soil Moisture/Hydraulic Properties 2. Biochar Effects on Plant Growth and Agronomic Yields 3. Field Application and Case Studies of Biochar Use 4. Other Agronomic or Environmental Uses of Biochar 5. Poster Session: Biochar: Agronomic and Environmental Uses Across all of these sessions, we will also have a graduate and undergraduate student competition both for oral and poster presentations.