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Evaluating the Utility of Pinyon and Juniper Derived Biochar as a Soil Amendment to Improve Urban Tree Survival
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Evaluating the Utility of Pinyon and Juniper Derived Biochar as a Soil Amendment to Improve Urban Tree Survival

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Evaluating the Utility of Pinyon and Juniper Derived Biochar as a Soil Amendment to Improve Urban Tree Survival

Evaluating the Utility of Pinyon and Juniper Derived Biochar as a Soil Amendment to Improve Urban Tree Survival

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  • 1. Evaluating the Utility of Pinyon and Juniper Derived Biochar as a Soil Amendment to Improve Urban Tree Survival Casey Schmidt, MS, PhD Associate Professor Desert Research Institute
  • 2. Outline • Introduction • Value of Urban Forests • Biochar Background • • • • Definition Longevity in soils Chemical structure and Reactivity Beneficial Soil Properties • Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) Pinyon-Juniper Biochar, • Nursery Application • Studies • Biochar Production Methods (Temperature, Biochar Amount) • • • • • 1) Soil Chemical Properties 2) Soil Moisture Study 3) Greenhouse Study 4) Germination Inhibition 5) Earthworm Avoidance Assay • Future Work and Uncertainties
  • 3. Urban Forest Benefits Hydrograph Rainfall Event Treeless Time
  • 4. Street Tree Benefits • Street tree canopy can increase individual housing price by $7,000 (Donovan & Butry, 2004) • Tree canopy in Las Vegas Valley stores nearly 1,010,055 tons of carbon, provides an annual air pollution removal value of $8.5M and a total stormwater runoff mitigation value of approximately $208M. Source: Las Vegas Valley Urban Canopy Analysis, 2012-Nevada Division of Forestry (http://forestry.nv.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2012/05/LasVegasValley_Canopy_2012.pdf)
  • 5. Street Tree Mortality Roman and Scatena, 2011 - Street tree survival rates: Meta-analysis of previous studies and application to a field survey in Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • 6. Biochar 101 • Pyrolysis – Combustion at 400-700oC in low oxygen conditions, incomplete combustion, organic black carbon, not an ash. • A ‘ten dollar word’ for charcoal that you apply to soil • Semi-crystalline organic carbon which imparts long-term beneficial soil properties
  • 7. Biochar 101 • Pyrolysis – Combustion at 400-700oC in low oxygen conditions, incomplete combustion, organic black carbon, not an ash. • A ‘ten dollar word’ for charcoal that you apply to soil • Semi-crystalline organic carbon which imparts long-term beneficial soil properties
  • 8. Longevity: Terra Preta • Glaser, B., L. Haumaier, et al. (2001). "The 'Terra Preta' phenomenon: a model for sustainable agriculture in the humid tropics." Naturwissenschaften 88(1): 37-41.
  • 9. Biochar 101 • Pyrolysis – Combustion at 400-700oC in low oxygen conditions, incomplete combustion, organic black carbon, not an ash. • A ‘ten dollar word’ for charcoal that you apply to soil • Semi-crystalline organic carbon which imparts long-term beneficial soil properties
  • 10. Biochar Chemistry • • • Source: Bernal (1924), as cited in Lehman & Joseph (2009): Biochar for Effective Environ. Management Source: Brennan et al (2001) as cited in Lehman & Joseph (2009): Biochar for Effective Environ. Management Source: Lehman & Joseph (2009): Biochar for Effective Environ. Management
  • 11. Reactivity: High Surface Area • High Surface Area: Colonization by mycorhizal fungi, bacteria • Charged surface area increases nutrient retention • Weak sorptionExchangeable • Functional groupsStronger Bonds • (a) Lehman and Joseph 2009 (b) Jin 2010 (c) environmentalresearchweb.org .
  • 12. Phosphorus Retention Source: Cheng et al., 2006, Lehman et al., 2005 as reproduced in Lehman, 2007 – Biochar in the Black, Front. Ecol. Environ.
  • 13. Contaminant Retention Source: Dong et al., 2013, Cr,
  • 14. Biochar 101 • Pyrolysis – Combustion at 400-700oC in low oxygen conditions, incomplete combustion, organic black carbon, not an ash. • A ‘ten dollar word’ for charcoal that you apply to soil • Semi-crystalline organic carbon which imparts long-term beneficial soil properties
  • 15. Beneficial Soil Properties • Potential long-term improvement in water holding capacity (organic amendment) • Longevity - Carbon sequestration • Reduce soil toxicity, remediation, filtration • Increase Nutrient Retention • Varies with feedstock and production methods (temperature, heating rate) and time. • Functional group formation from abiotic reactions.
  • 16. NDF Biochar • Pinyon-Juniper, fuel load reduction and sage grouse and sagebrush habitat protectionchipped onsite • Biochar produced onsite in a transportable metal kiln (Eric Roussel) • NDF nursery adds char to their nursery potting mix • Nursery Pilot Study: DRI assisting with optimizing the application of biochar in the nursery • Urban Forestry: Can biochar be used as a soil amendment to improve conditions for street trees
  • 17. Pilot Study: Nursery Application • Pilot NDF Nursery Study • Initial hazard assessment: Is it harmful/beneficial to nursery plants, soil organisms • Parameterize further research and application • • • What application rates? Production Conditions: Temperature, transportable metal kiln vs. carefully controlled production conditions Guide future biochar applications and projects applicable to urban forestry
  • 18. Biochar Application Rates • Nursery and tree plantings allow for greater application rates than agronomic applications. • More is always better, right? • Mineral vs. Organic Soil Control 5% 15% 30%
  • 19. Methods • Is Feedstock Important, Temperature? USDA-ARS: Isabel Lima
  • 20. NDF Biochar Methods • How does NDF biochar compare?
  • 21. Soil and Biochar Chemical Analysis Production temperature and application rate to optimize beneficial and minimize detrimental soil properties? • Cation Exchange Capacity – amount of nutrient/ion retention, • Available P, K, Ca, Mg • pH – biochar is alkaline • C-N ratio (N immobilization at high C-N)
  • 22. Pyrolysis Temp. vs. Soil Properties • pH increases with pyrolysis temperature; C-N ratio decreases • NDF Biochar has desirable CEC, C-N Ratio, albeit high pH
  • 23. Alkalinity and N immoblization of Biochar Mixtures • What affect will high pH have on alkaline NV soils, urban soils • Soil-Biochar mixtures tailored to soil type • Is C-N ratio concept applicable to biochar?
  • 24. Cation Exchange Capacity Soils • Moderate CEC increase for mineral soils • CEC increases over time, functional group formation • NDF Biochar • Cheng et al., 2006
  • 25. Pyrolysis Temp vs. Plant Nutrients • Non-volatile nutrients increase with temp (e.g. Ca, Mg, K), volatile nutrients stabilize (e.g. P) • NDF Biochar has high K, P, low Ca
  • 26. Soil Phosphorus Over Time
  • 27. Soil Studies Conclusions • Biochar is not a fertilizer • Moderate long-term increase in soil fertility of mineral soils as measured by cation exchange capacity, may increase over time • NDF biochar has a high pH, but otherwise compares favorably to the range of soil properties observed
  • 28. Soil Moisture Studies and soil water • Saturate soils and measure moisture content potential (plant available water) over time. • Assessed on nursery potting mix and mineral Apmat soil Control 5% 15% 30%
  • 29. Soil Water Potential:Potting Media • High moisture content of potting media alone • Utility of coarse biochar in place of vermiculite • Water held more tightly on biochar
  • 30. Soil Water Holding Capacity: Mineral Soil Apmat soil only Apmat soil only • High total moisture content in biochar • Water held more tightly in biochar
  • 31. Water Content vs. Availability
  • 32. Soil Moisture Study Conclusions • Biochar provides large increases in total soil moisture although water is held with greater tension • Plant available water increases most dramatic at high biochar application rates • Biochar not necessarily desirable for increasing moisture content in highly organic nursery potting media
  • 33. Greenhouse Study • Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is the indicator species used. • Germination Inhibition
  • 34. Plant Growth: Height
  • 35. Plant Growth: Leaf Count
  • 36. Germination Inhibition Study • Nasturtium and Morning Glory • No significant difference in ‘Time to germinate’ between treatments
  • 37. Earthworm Avoidance Assay • Earthworms added to moist soils
  • 38. Greenhouse Study Conclusions • Biochar did not inhibit germination, but did inhibit earthworms • Biochar amended soils tended to improve plant growth rates in nursery conditions. • Tended to have strongest effect at 350oC (amorphous) and 700oC (semi-crystalline) and at high biochar applications. • What will be the affect of growth rates for urban street trees?
  • 39. Biochar Uncertainties • Carbon Accounting: Production methods, Transportation, carbon longevity • Impact of Biochar on Mineral Soils • Soil compaction and Drainage • Long-term changes to plant growth response and soil properties • Impact on urban soil remediation
  • 40. Urban Forestry Studies • Year one: Lab/greenhouse study • Year Two: Greenhouse study/ urban tree trials/compaction studies • Year Three: Review urban tree trials/Marketing and commercialization • Collaborators: DRI, NDF, UNR-UNCE, USDA Forest Service, Washoe and Clark Counties.
  • 41. Questions? • Thank you to Nevada Division of Forestry, David Howlett, John Christopherson, Eric Roussel, Isabel Lima and NDF Nursery Staff

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