The effects of biochar additions on soil structure and changes to aged biochar particles in soil

Kerrie Burns

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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    [Truncated] Biochar is a soil amendment that is capable of improving the chemical, physical, and biological properties of soils. This thesis examined the physical changes in two contrasting soils with biochar additions to determine whether there were measurable improvements in soil structure. Improvements were quantified by measuring the key soil structure indicators, bulk density, soil water content, and aggregate stability using established methods. Physical changes to individual biochar particles and soil aggregates were also examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS).
    Established biochar trials were used in this study in order to enable measurement of physical changes in the soil due to biochar additions that had occurred several years before sampling. The trials were the Rainbow Bee Eater (RBE) trial in Western Australia on a sandy earth, and the N.S.W Department of Primary Industries trials in northern New South Wales on a red ferrosols. The different soil types were selected to investigate whether biochar’s impact differs in contrasting soils.
    The results for the RBE poor structured sandy soil showed that additions of 60t/ha or greater of biochar produced a statistically significant increase in both water holding and bulk density. The longer-term effects of these improvements on plant productivity is not clear since the plant yields have not been measured subsequent to the initial field trial shortly after the biochar was added to the soil.
    There were no measureable improvements from biochar additions in characteristics of the structured ferrosol.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Jan 2014


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