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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOILS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT FOR MORE EFFICIENT WATER USE IN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE Title: Development of designer biochar to remediate specific chemical and physical aspects of degraded soils

Authors
item Novak, Jeffrey
item Busscher, Warren
item Schomberg, Harry
item Lima, Isabel
item Loughrin, John
item Watts, Donald
item Gaskins, J -
item Das, K -
item Steiner, C -
item Ahmedna, M -
item Rehrah, D -
item Bae, S -
item Xing, B -

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 21, 2009
Publication Date: August 9, 2009
Citation: Novak, J.M., Busscher, W.J., Schomberg, H.H., Lima, I.M., Loughrin, J.H., Watts, D.W., Gaskins, J., Das, K.C., Steiner, C., Ahmedna, M., Rehrah, D., Bae, S., Xing, B. 2009. Development of designer biochar to remediate specific chemical and physical aspects of degraded soils [abstract]. Proceedings of the 2009 North American Biochar Conference, August 9-12, 2009, Boulder, Colorado.

Technical Abstract: When biochar is added to degraded soil, it can improve fertility, increase crop production, and act as a long-term sink for atmospheric carbon (C). Biochars along with bio-oils and gasses are produced when biomass is pyrolyzed. Biochar pyrolysis at high temperatures (500 to 700°C) maximizes bio-oil and gas production. These harsh conditions cause biochar to be recalcitrant to degradation since C structures are condensed into polymeric aromatic structures. The recalcitrant nature may be desirable if the goal is to increase C sequestration for millennia. However, if the goal is soil improvement, then pyrolysis conditions can be altered to produce biochars with less aromatic character and more surface functional groups. We propose that the pyrolysis process can be customized to produce designed biochars that are either recalcitrant or have properties that remediate selective characteristics of degraded soils. Preliminary results showed that switchgrass biochar pyrolyzed at a lower temperature (250°C) retained more O-functional groups and had higher total acidity than higher temperature biochar (500°C). Biochars produced from four feedstock’s are being examined in laboratory incubation experiments to examine the influence of high and low pyrolysis temperatures on soil physical and chemical characteristics. [GRACEnet Publication]

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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