The USDA-ARS has extensively studied the agricultural and environmental uses of biochar and the mechanisms that drive improvements in soil health and crop productivity.
USBI met with
USDA-ARS scientists and other stakeholders with interests in biochar research to develop a roadmap that would facilitate the development of biochar-based technologies and use guidelines.
The meeting was coordinated by
Dr. Kristin Trippe and
Dr. Claire Phillips (Corvallis, Oregon),
Dr. Kurt Spokas (St. Paul, Minnesota) and
Dr Jeff Novak (Florence, South Carolina).
Participants from the ARS included soil scientists, microbiologists, plant physiologists,
microbiologists, chemists, a chemical engineer, a food technologist and national program managers. Other stakeholders included
Dr. Mark Johnson, EPA,
Holly Prendeville, USDA NW Climate Hub,
Jim Archuleta, USDA Forest Service, Wood Utilization Program,
, Cornell University/IBI,
One goal of the workshop was to determine if there is enough scientific information about biochar to develop a more general statement about its benefits for an implementation guidance document. Several knowns and unknowns were identified. Examples of were given of decision support tools that address specific soil properties such as hydraulic conductivity and soil fertility (e.g.
Another goal was to facilitate study comparison and the ability to make recommendations for biochar-based amendments. Long term field studies at existing USDA ARS locations were identified. The importance of balancing regional needs with and long term locations was recognized.
There has been significant collaboration across agencies. Participants recognized the collaboration with academics, USDA, USEPA , USDA Climate Hub and private entities.
The workshop resolved to strengthen CHARnet, which is an exiting international network of USDA-ARS and academic scientists. Proposals were made for sharing resources, such as laboratory capabilities, within USDA-ARS. A biochar resource library was proposed to produce, house and distribute well-characterized and agronomically relevant biochars for use in federal,academic and industry-sponsored research.
Workshop participants recognized current economic challenges and the need to demonstrate economic uses of biochars.
A report of the meeting was published in the October 2018 edition of