Utilizing Biochar. I’m Greg Martin as Line On Agriculture presents the Harvest Clean Energy Report.
Biochar. It is essentially charcoal but not used as a fuel source. Biochar is being looked at for its benefits of bio sequestration. Jason Streubel with WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center explains.
STREUBEL: And it started by looking at the Amazon and going through some of the older data and realizing that there were places in the Amazon that were higher in soil fertility and soil nutrients that had greater crop yields than other places in the Amazon that didn’t and usually in tropical soils the nutrients are depleted because of the tropical climate.
Research showed a type of biochar in the soil. Streubel says that discovery has prompted a lot more research into biochar.
STREUBEL: And people are looking at it both for a carbon source because it’s a hard carbon and carbon sequestration and the environment and global climate change but then they’re looking at it for other things within the soil. The results are still mixed on what the ability is of it in the soil and so our research was to take some of the Washington State soils and add biochar to it to see what it would do in these soils.
They are finding that it does help to raise pH and helps increase water holding capacity but they have also discovered a unique use with cattle.
STREUBEL: My research focused on helping out our local farmers, especially our local dairymen on what we could do to help them take care of some of their nutrient loading that they have with their dairy manure and maybe create a product for them to sell off-site. And so we looked at using the fiber from the dairy manure turning it into a biochar and then putting it into dairy lagoons to kind of absorb/recover phosphorus from those lagoons, lowering the phosphorus levels so that it could go back out onto the field in a normal process but with a lower phosphorus load
Results have been promising in lowering the phosphorus levels in the lagoons.
STREUBEL: And we are also then taking that material and seeing if it’s useful to the plant and that the phosphorus that’s being trapped truly is in plant available form. And our results seem to indicate that when you add our biochar into the dairy lagoons we can lower phosphorus and it looks like it can be an adequate fertilizer source. They would be able to reduce their phosphorus loads on their land, in their lagoons and possibly have a co-product to sell off-site to people who do need phosphorus in a form that is carbon rich and plant available.
For additional information on clean energy, visit harvestcleanenergy.org. That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.???www.harvestcleanenergy.org