Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Meetings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/26/2018
Publication Date: 11/6/2018
Citation: Sistani, K.R., Simmons, J.R. 2018. Poultry litter and biochar impact on corn, nutrient uptake, and atmospheric emissions. American Society of Agronomy Meetings. Paper No. 350.
Technical Abstract: Biochar holds great promise as a soil amendment to sequester carbon, improve soil fertility, adsorb organic pollutants, stimulate soil microbial activities, conserve plant nutrients, and improve crop yield. We used a hardwood biochar as a soil amendment in central Kentucky, USA to assess its impact on corn (Zea mays) grain and biomass yields, and greenhouse gas emission. The hardwood biochar was produced through fast pyrolysis (500 to 600°C) of wood waste material. After pyrolysis, the biochar had a pH of 5.59, ash content of 14.2%, and contained macronutrients (N, K, P, etc.). Biochar was initially applied to the plots in 2010 at the rate of 21.28 Mg ha-1 followed by rototilling all the plots. Fertilizer and poultry litter (PL) treatments were then surface applied to plots with and without biochar amendment within each replication. An untreated control was also included among the treatments. Only PL and chemical fertilizer were applied annually from 2010 to 2013. Biochar alone did not increase corn dry matter biomass, grain yield, and N, P, K uptake; however, these parameters were increased when biochar was combined with PL or chemical fertilizer. Poultry litter treatment produced significantly greater N2O and CO2 emissions, but the emissions decreased significantly when PL was combined with biochar. Total precipitation and moisture availability for the months of June, July, and August varied considerably (286 to 476 mm) during this timeframe which can severely impact the reproductive growth stage of corn. We conclude that this hardwood biochar did not possess chemical characteristics capable of improving corn productivity within the experimental timeframe or develop a positive impact on corn yield based on reactions with the specific soil chemical properties alone, but has potential when combined with PL or chemical fertilizer. However, more importantly, biochar did not negatively impact corn production.