Location: Soil Management ResearchTitle: Biochar amendments show potential for restoration of degraded, contaminated, and infertile soils in agricultural and forested landscapes
|BROCKAMP, RACHEL - University Of Saskatchewan|
Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/16/2020
Publication Date: 1/1/2021
Citation: Brockamp, R.L., Weyers, S.L. 2021. Biochar amendments show potential for restoration of degraded, contaminated, and infertile soils in agricultural and forested landscapes. In: Stanturf, J; Callaham, M., editors. Soils and Landscape Restoration. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press. p. 209-236. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-813193-0.00008-4.
Interpretive Summary: Biochar is a carbon-rich material generated from organic materials thermolytically converted by natural (e.g., wildfires) and industrial (e.g., pyrolysis) processes. Multiple chemical and physical properties of biochar make this material useful for restoring degraded, contaminated, and infertile soils in agricultural and forested landscapes. This literature review synthesizes how biochar can be used to target the restoration needs of specific agricultural and forested landscapes. Scientists, land managers, and policy makers will benefit from this study when they need to develop application processes for using biochar to restore damaged landscape systems.
Technical Abstract: Biochar use as a soil amendment arose from the influx of new understanding of the origin of the "Terra Preta" soils rediscovered in the Amazon. Current theory assumes active measures were taken centuries ago (450-950 AD) to enrich soils with burnt biomass (char), bone, and manure (Sohi et al., 2010; Novotny et al., 2007). These active measures over time resulted in extremely fertile soils rich in plant nutrients, microbial activity, and reactive functional groups that influence cation exchange capacity and a host of other physicochemical soil properties (Glasser et al., 2001). A wealth of research resulting from this rediscovery has demonstrated that laboratory and commercial grade biochar may enhance soil health and plant growth and have use as a soil amendment in forestry, agriculture, degraded landscapes and contaminated soils. However, not all biochars are alike or have the same uses, as variable feedstocks and thermoconversion conditions influence biochar properties. Similarly, the landscape to which they are applied will express variable reactions due to differences in soil type, climate, vegetation and management. In this chapter the occurrence, production and properties of biochar, and how these properties influence specific soil conditions and reactions is described. We then discuss the proposed, prescribed and applied uses for biochar on the landscape. We finish with mention of potential hazards from biochar use and gaps in our knowledge.