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Research Project: Multi-Objective Optimization of a Profitable and Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture to Produce Food and Fiber in a Changing Climate

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

Title: Creating a biochar roadmap: The future of biochar research at the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Author
item Trippe, Kristin
item Phillips, Claire
item Spokas, Kurt
item MILES, TOM - Tr Miles Technical Consultants, Inc

Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/6/2018
Publication Date: 10/1/2018
Citation: Trippe, K.M., Phillips, C.L., Spokas, K.A., Miles, T. 2018. Creating a biochar roadmap: The future of biochar research at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. CSA News. 63:24-25. https://doi.org/10.2134/csa2018.63.1021.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2134/csa2018.63.1021

Interpretive Summary: The USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) has extensively studied the agricultural and environmental uses of biochar and the mechanisms that drive improvements in soil health and crop productivity . In May of 2018, ARS scientists with interests in biochar research met with critical stakeholders from the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Forest Service, the USDA Climate Hub, academia, and the private sector to develop a roadmap for biochar research that will facilitate the development of biochar-based technologies and use guidelines. The goals of the workshop were to: 1) Determine if there is enough scientific information about biochar to develop a more general statement about its benefits; and, 2)Facilitate and promote the cross-comparison of studies in a way that strengthens generalizations and provides recommendations for biochar-based amendments. In general, overwhelming enthusiasm for the use of biochar in agricultural, industrial, and environmental applications continues to drive biochar producers to develop biochar-based products. The workshop participants recognized that current demand for biochar does not lend itself to a strong economic paradigm. However, if the benefits that biochar promises can be harnessed in a predictable manner we feel that the barriers to creating a biochar-based biomass utilization stream will be minimized. The collaborative roadmap that emerged from this workshop details the critical experiments and collective vision for minimizing those barriers.

Technical Abstract: The USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) has extensively studied the agricultural and environmental uses of biochar and the mechanisms that drive improvements in soil health and crop productivity . In May of 2018, ARS scientists with interests in biochar research met with critical stakeholders from the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Forest Service, the USDA Climate Hub, academia, and the private sector to develop a roadmap for biochar research that will facilitate the development of biochar-based technologies and use guidelines. The goals of the workshop were to: 1) Determine if there is enough scientific information about biochar to develop a more general statement about its benefits; and, 2)Facilitate and promote the cross-comparison of studies in a way that strengthens generalizations and provides recommendations for biochar-based amendments. In general, overwhelming enthusiasm for the use of biochar in agricultural, industrial, and environmental applications continues to drive biochar producers to develop biochar-based products. The workshop participants recognized that current demand for biochar does not lend itself to a strong economic paradigm. However, if the benefits that biochar promises can be harnessed in a predictable manner we feel that the barriers to creating a biochar-based biomass utilization stream will be minimized. The collaborative roadmap that emerged from this workshop details the critical experiments and collective vision for minimizing those barriers.