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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390984

Research Project: The Effects of Water-Driven Processes on Sugarcane Production Systems and Associated Ecosystem Services in Louisiana

Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Biochar from bagasse: the effects on soil properties and sugarcane yield

item White, Paul
item Lima, Isabel

Submitted to: American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biochar, a carbon-rich solid formed by pyrolysis of excess bagasse, can be added as a soil amendment to improve agronomic yields. However, the impacts can range from negative to positive and the majority of research is based on application rates that may not be economically feasible (>30 t ha-1). The objective of this research was to demonstrate the effects of sugarcane byproduct-derived biochar to soil chemical and physical properties, and crop yield, when applied at rates of < 2 t ha-1. Cancienne silt loam (Schriever), Coushatta silt loam and silty clay loam (Bunkie), Schriever clay (Cade), and Loreauville silt loam (St. Martinville) with and without biochar (0.80 and 1.6 t ha-1) were incubated for 4 weeks prior to soil chemical evaluation. Soil organic matter, pH, exchange capacity, phosphorus, and nitrate were not affected by biochar. Extractable sulfur, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and ammonium varied depending on biochar addition. A second laboratory study evaluated the effects of biochar (1.6 t ha-1) on Cancienne silt loam wetted to a range of moisture content. Soil water potential (sum of osmotic and matric potential, -40.0 to -0.01 MPa) was not affected by biochar. A field experiment was conducted on Cancienne silt loam between 2013 and 2017 using 0.80 or 1.6 t ha-1 biochar applied at planting to commercial sugarcane (HoCP 96-540). Cane and sucrose yields were less affected by biochar addition in the plant cane and first ratoon crop; however, more impacts were observed in the second and third ratoon crops. Over the crop rotation bagasse biochar increased cane and sucrose yield by 17% and 20%, respectively. More field research is needed to confirm these results. Overall, biochar applied at economical rates had the least impact on soil water potential, when compared to soil chemical properties and yield.