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Ameliorating Effects of Biochar Application in Hard-Setting Subsoil Layer: Quality of Leached Water and Soil Chemical Properties

Gilbert Sigua
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Presentation file: 
PDF icon 1.3.1 Sigua, Gilbert.pdf6.92 MB

Soils in the southeastern United States Coastal Plain region have meager soil fertility and frequently have a compacted subsoil layer (E horizon). Biochar application is an emerging management option to improve both soil physical and chemical properties. Four different biochars were evaluated to improve soil fertility and water movement through a compacted horizon from a Norfolk soil (fine-loamy, kaolinitic, thermic, Typic Kandiudult). Biochars were produced by pyrolysis at 500oC from pine chips (Pinus taeda), poultry litter (Gallus dometicus) feedstock, and as blends (50:50 and 80:20) of pine chip (PC): poultry litter (PL). Our results show that adding PC and blended biochars (PL:PC) to a compacted subsoil layer can initially increase water infiltration from 0.157 to 0.219 mL/min (p ≤ 0.05) compared with the control (0.95 mL/min). Higher nutrient availability was found after additions of biochars especially applications of 100% PL and 50:50 blend of PC and PL. On the average, applications of 100% PL and 50:50 blend of PC:PL had the greatest amount of soil total nitrogen with means of 1.94±0.3 percent (%) and 1.44±0.4%, respectively. When compared with the control, 50:50 blend of PC:PL additions resulted in increase of 669% for P, 830% for K, 307% for Ca and 687% for Mg while application of 100% PL increased the concentration of extractable P, K, Ca, and Mg by 363%, 1349%, 152% and 363%, respectively. Overall, our results showed promising significance since biochars did improve water infiltration and fertility characteristics properties of a hard-setting subsoil layer in a Norfolk soil.

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