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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Bowling Green, Kentucky » Food Animal Environmental Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #304220

Title: Biochar as soil amendment to improve soil quality, crop yield, and carbon sequestration

item Sistani, Karamat
item Simmons, Jason
item Novak, Jeffrey

Submitted to: World Congress of Soil Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2014
Publication Date: 6/13/2014
Citation: Sistani, K.R., Simmons, J.R., Novak, J.M. 2014. Biochar as soil amendment to improve soil quality, crop yield, and carbon sequestration. World Congress of Soil Science. AF1011.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biochar, a by-product of a thermochemical process called pyrolysis, which involves burning of any agricultural and animal waste (biomass) under high temperature and absence of oxygen. It is assumed that since biochar is very high in aromatic carbon, which persists in soil environment for very long time. Biochar has a porous physical nature that can be used by microorganisms; also as soil conditioner, it improves soil quality parameters such as soil compaction, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, nutrient exchange capacity (CEC), aggregation and aggregate stability, organic carbon build up, soil reaction (pH), and soil microbial ecology. In this process, soil acts as an enormous C sink, which could significantly contribute to the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere. Our objective was to evaluate biochar application impact on soil and corn grain yield in comparison with chemical fertilizer and animal manure. Corn grain yield in 2010 and 2011 were lower than 2013 due to drought and hail damage during the growing seasons. No significant differences among treatments in regard to corn yield in 2010 and 2011. In 2013 (an optimum year), biochar treatment produced significantly lower corn grain yield than chemical fertilizer, poultry litter, and combination of biochar and poultry litter.