Impacts of Biochar Amendments on Soil Microbial Community Activity and Structure

Presented by John Kelly on August 8, 2014

Return to the Past Events page

Download the slides from John Kelly's presentation

John Kelly's Abstract

Biochar is a solid material obtained from the carbonization of biomass. Biochar can be important as a soil amendment for improving cropland, especially in areas with depleted soils or lacking adequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies. However, there have been variable results reported for soil fertility with the addition of biochar, which may be due in part to the fact that specific soil and biochar properties were not taken into consideration. We investigated the chemical, biological, and physical properties of soils amended with biochar using a range of soils found in Illinois. Soils were mixed with biochar made from three different feedstocks (hardwood, corn stover, and Miscanthus) using various production methods (gassification, pyrolysis) at three different concentrations (0%, 1%, and 5% by weight). Soil-biochar mixtures were incubated in bottles to enable measurement of greenhouse gas production, and at the conclusion of incubations soil bacterial community composition was analyzed by deep sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes via paired-end amplicon sequencing on the Illumina MiSeq platform. Data from the greenhouse gas emissions studies and microbial community evaluations will be discussed.