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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #293958

Title: Agronomic and environmental consequences for switchgrass grown on biochar amended soils

item Skinner, Robert
item NGUYEN, BINH - Pennsylvania State University
item KOIDE, ROGER - Brigham Young University
item DROHAN, PATRICK - Pennsylvania State University
item Dell, Curtis
item Adler, Paul
item NORD, ANDREA - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/30/2013
Publication Date: 11/3/2013
Citation: Skinner, R.H., Nguyen, B.T., Koide, R., Drohan, P., Dell, C.J., Adler, P.R., Nord, A.N. 2013. Agronomic and environmental consequences for switchgrass grown on biochar amended soils. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. p 1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biochar amended soils are thought to positively impact water holding capacity and nutrient retention leading to increased biomass production and reduced loss of reactive N though nitrous oxide emissions. However, the need for surface application and incorporation limits options for biochar application to perennial grasslands such as switchgrass. This study compares pre-plant surface application and incorporation of 10 T biochar/ha with four years of simulated injections into existing switchgrass stands at 2.5 T/ha/yr. The study is being conducted at two excessively wet and two drought prone sites in central Pennsylvania. This report presents preliminary data on location and biochar application method effects on soil water relations, switchgrass growth, and nitrous oxide emissions. Switchgrass biochar was produced by high-temperature pyrolysis then either surface applied at 10 Mg biochar/ha and rototilled into the soil, or applied to chiseled furrows in four yearly applications of 2.5 Mg/ha. The first of the four applications was made in autumn 2011 and the second in 2012. Switchgrass seedlings were transplanted into the field plots in spring 2012. First year switchgrass yield was not significantly affected by the presence of biochar (P = 0.17) or biochar application method (P = 0.13), although a trend existed for plots with biochar to have slightly greater yield than plots without biochar (8,759 vs. 8,476 kg/ha) and rototilled plots to have greater yield than chiseled plots (8,773 kg/ha vs. 8462 kg/ha). Yield was significantly affected by location (P is less than 0.001) with the wettest site having the greatest yield (10,901 kg/ha) and the driest site the least (7,152 kg/ha). Second year yield, soil water and nitrous oxide emission data will be collected during the 2013 growing season. Initial results show no advantage or disadvantage of biochar or biochar application method on switchgrass production. Future years will determine if the small observed trends represents real effects of biochar on switchgrass yield.