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Agriculture 2016, 6(1), 10;

Using Agricultural Residue Biochar to Improve Soil Quality of Desert Soils

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30001 MSC 3805, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
Extension Plant Sciences and Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 3001 MSC 3Q, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bin Gao
Received: 31 July 2015 / Revised: 1 March 2016 / Accepted: 4 March 2016 / Published: 10 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Biochar on Soil Fertility and Crop Production)
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A laboratory study was conducted to test the effects of biochars made from different feedstocks on soil quality indicators of arid soils. Biochars were produced from four locally-available agricultural residues: pecan shells, pecan orchard prunings, cotton gin trash, and yard waste, using a lab-scale pyrolyzer operated at 450 °C under a nitrogen environment and slow pyrolysis conditions. Two local arid soils used for crop production, a sandy loam and a clay loam, were amended with these biochars at a rate of 45 Mg·ha−1 and incubated for three weeks in a growth chamber. The soils were analyzed for multiple soil quality indicators including soil organic matter content, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and available nutrients. Results showed that amendment with cotton gin trash biochar has the greatest impact on both soils, significantly increasing SOM and plant nutrient (P, K, Ca, Mn) contents, as well as increasing the electrical conductivity, which creates concerns about soil salinity. Other biochar treatments significantly elevated soil salinity in clay loam soil, except for pecan shell biochar amended soil, which was not statistically different in EC from the control treatment. Generally, the effects of the biochar amendments were minimal for many soil measurements and varied with soil texture. Effects of biochars on soil salinity and pH/nutrient availability will be important considerations for research on biochar application to arid soils. View Full-Text
Keywords: biochar; arid soils; cotton gin trash; pecan shells; orchard prunings; soil salinity biochar; arid soils; cotton gin trash; pecan shells; orchard prunings; soil salinity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Zhang, Y.; Idowu, O.J.; Brewer, C.E. Using Agricultural Residue Biochar to Improve Soil Quality of Desert Soils. Agriculture 2016, 6, 10.

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