Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #313792

Research Project: INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY AND MITIGATING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS OF FOOD AND BIOFUEL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS OF THE UPPER MIDWEST U.S.

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Research and application of biochar in North America

Author
item Zheng, Wei - University Of Illinois
item Holm, Nancy - University Of Illinois
item Spokas, Kurt

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/30/2015
Publication Date: 4/22/2016
Citation: Zheng, W., Holm, N., Spokas, K.A. 2016. Research and application of biochar in North America. In: Guo, M., He, Z. Uchimiya, S.M., editors. Agricultural and Environmental Applications of Biochar: Advances and Barriers. Madison, WI: Soil Science Society of America, Inc. p. 475-494.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biochar production and application in soil are proposed as a good strategy for carbon sequestration, providing simultaneous benefits for improving soil quality and increasing agronomic productivity. In this chapter, we summarized historic and current researches and application of biochar in North America. Combined with some of our researchers, focusing on three important aspects: 1) three aspects of applications including biochar as a soil amendment, 2) its use as a carbon sequestration approachagent, and 3) biochar as an environmental friendly material were elucidated. The effect of biochar as a soil amendment on agronomic yields was comprehensively evaluated. In addition to revitalizinge degraded soils in North America, application of biochar to rich fertile soil was further investigated evaluated for potential and a synergistic agronomic effects was found when the use of biochar when co-applied combined with chemical nutrient fertilizers. The potential of biochar as a carbon sequestration strategy was assessed in North America by theoretically analyzing the available and unused biomass that could be used to produce biochar for carbon storage. This analysis It indicates that Canada and the U.S. do have sufficient biomass to produce biochar and thereby largely offset their annual CO2 emissions from human activity. In addition to directly sequestering carbon, biochar as a soil amendment showed has potential to reduce soil emissions of other greenhouse gases such as CH4 and N2O. As an environmental friendly material, biochar can be used as a sorbent to immobilize heavy metals and organic pollutants in the contaminated soils. Biochar can also serve as a precursor of other high value carbon materials such as activated carbon, supercapacitors, or carbonaceous catalyst support. To increase the potential of widespread biochar adoption, its potential risks and barriers were further addressed and analyzed, and thereby possible solutions and future uses in North America were proposed.