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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Section: Environmental Benefits of Biochar

Chicken Manure Biochar as Liming and Nutrient Source for Acid Appalachian Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 41 No. 4, p. 1096-1106
    Received: Apr 1, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): amirhass@wvstateu.edu
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  1. Amir Hass *ab,
  2. Javier M. Gonzalezb,
  3. Isabel M. Limac,
  4. Harry W. Godwinb,
  5. Jonathan J. Halvorsonb and
  6. Douglas G. Boyerb
  1. a Agricultural and Environmental Research Station, Gus R. Douglass Land-Grant Institute, West Virginia State Univ., Institute, WV 25112
    b USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, 1224 Airport Rd., Beaver, WV 25813-9423
    c USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Southern Regional Research Center, 1100 Robert E. Lee Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70124. Assigned to Associate Editor Xiying Hao


Acid weathered soils often require lime and fertilizer application to overcome nutrient deficiencies and metal toxicity to increase soil productivity. Slow-pyrolysis chicken manure biochars, produced at 350 and 700°C with and without subsequent steam activation, were evaluated in an incubation study as soil amendments for a representative acid and highly weathered soil from Appalachia. Biochars were mixed at 5, 10, 20, and 40 g kg−1 into a Gilpin soil (fine-loamy, mixed, active, mesic Typic Hapludult) and incubated in a climate-controlled chamber for 8 wk, along with a nonamended control and soil amended with agronomic dolomitic lime (AgLime). At the end of the incubation, soil pH, nutrient availability (by Mehlich-3 and ammonium bicarbonate diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid [AB-DTPA] extractions), and soil leachate composition were evaluated. Biochar effect on soil pH was process- and rate-dependent. Biochar increased soil pH from 4.8 to 6.6 at the high application rate (40 g kg−1), but was less effective than AgLime. Biochar produced at 350°C without activation had the least effect on soil pH. Biochar increased soil Mehlich-3 extractable micro- and macronutrients. On the basis of unit element applied, increase in pyrolysis temperature and biochar activation decreased availability of K, P, and S compared to nonactivated biochar produced at 350°C. Activated biochars reduced AB-DTPA extractable Al and Cd more than AgLime. Biochar did not increase NO3 in leachate, but increased dissolved organic carbon, total N and P, PO43−, SO42−, and K at high application rate (40 g kg−1). Risks of elevated levels of dissolved P may limit chicken manure biochar application rate. Applied at low rates, these biochars provide added nutritional value with low adverse impact on leachate composition.

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