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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #309387

Research Project: Improving Chemical, Physical, and Biological Properties of Degraded Sandy Soils for Environmentally Sustainable Production

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

Title: Crop yield responses to a hardwood biochar across varied soils and climate conditions

Author
item Novak, Jeffrey - Jeff
item Laird, David
item Collins, Harold - Hal
item Lentz, Rodrick - Rick
item Ippolito, James
item Sistani, Karamat
item Spokas, Kurt
item Van Pelt, Robert - Scott
item Karlen, Douglas
item Tomer, Mark
item Sauer, Thomas - Tom
item Sigua, Gilbert

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biochars applied to soil for crop yield improvements have produced mixed results. The assorted crop yield responses may be linked to employing biochars with diverse chemical and physical characteristics. To clarify if biochars can improve crop yields, it may be prudent to evaluate one biochar type under different soil/climate conditions. Here, we conducted a multi-year (2008 to 2013) field performance evaluation at six locations encompassing the USA using a hardwood biochar to improve corn (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) stand counts, grain, and biomass yields. Wood waste was pyrolyzed between 500 to 600° Celcius to produce the hardwood biochar. The biochar had a pH of 5.59, ash content of 14.2%, and contained macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In general, biochar was applied to triplicate plots at 17.4 to 22.4 Mega-grams per hectare. Additionally, both wet and dry animal manure sources were applied, manure mixed with biochar was also applied, and plots treated with inorganic fertilizer alone served as a control. Results for sorghum were inclusive due to drought. For corn, however, pooling results across six locations and years, we found no significant effect of hardwood biochar on stand counts, grain yields, and stover yields (minus grain wt.). We conclude that this hardwood biochar within the timeframe of this experiment was not a suitable soil amendment to improve corn productivity. On the other hand, it did not negatively impact corn production.