Impact of Biochar on Specialty Crop Production: Potential Positive and Negative Effects

This research involves a combination of laboratory and field research as well as on-farm collaborations with specialty crop producers in Minnesota to examine the impact of biochar additions on specialty crop production. There currently is no guidance in terms of biochar use on specialty crops and therefore is critical research, particularly to the organic specialty crop producers. The goals of the project are to examine the effects of a variety of different biochar and soil combinations on specialty crop production and use this data as the foundation for guidance on biochar use for specialty crop production. We have examined a variety of biochars on a diverse selection of soils in greenhouse studies as well as field plot experiments. We have observed a variety of impacts, including positive increases in growth, germination, and yield of some specialty crops when grown in biochar amended soils. Some of these increases have been significant improvements in growth and yield. On the other hand, negative impacts on growth, germination, and yield have also been observed. Depending on the sorbed concentration of PAH and the corresponding application levels, these organic compounds have also been observed in some specialty crops. Our results to date indicate the need for guidance on the use of biochars to avoid the negative aspects observed from high application amounts. Furthermore, similar to other soil amendments, application amounts should be targeted at remedying a particular soil deficiency.
Presenter Profile: 
More Information Contact Name: 
Kurt Spokas

2012 US Biochar Conference Sponsors