Title: Overview of USDA-ARS biochar research: Impacts on soil quality, contaminant binding, and reductions in greenhouse gases emissions Author
Submitted to: Eurosoil Congress
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 2011
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Biochar is under intensive evaluation by USDA-ARS scientists and cooperators for its many roles, such as an amendment to improve soil fertility, physical conditions, and sequester pollutants. In our evaluations, biochars can be effective at improving soil fertility, at sorbing inorganic/organic compounds, and at influencubg greenhouse gas production/consumption. Biochar’s ability to influence these reactions is dependent on pyrolysis conditions, feedstock selection, aging, and the presence of associated volatile components. Understanding how biochar quality is influenced by pyrolytic conditions and feedstock selection led to creation of ‘designer biochars’ where the biochar is engineered to possess chemical and physical features known to improve targeted soil characteristics. Recent laboratory experiments have shown that designer biochars in weathered and aridic soils can selectively improve C sequestration, reduce physical problems, and re-balance soil plant nutrient levels. This presentation will highlight USDA-ARS field and laboratory biochar research projects and will discuss results for the varied uses/applications of biochar.