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Agricultural use of biochar from alternative sources

Abstract

To conciliate high food production levels to environmental sustainability is nowadays one of the main challenges for agriculture. Biochar is a high stable material, with peculiar chemical and physical characteristics, which may be a useful tool for this task. Biochar has been studied for several applications, such as energy production, soil quality improvement, among others. Considering this scenario it would be and important advance to understand how the biomass sources and the production process are related to the final product application. The present work has the following objectives: i) to study how the pyrolysis changes the chemical composition of the resulting biochar and how it relates to the original biomass; (ii) to determine the availability of N and P and of some heavy metals found in biochar samples after its addition to soil; (iii) to evaluate biochar stability after its addition to soil, by monitoring C-CO2 emission; (iv) to evaluate the water holding capacity and the cation exchange capacity of the biochar samples studied and how it would affect the soil; (v) to evaluate the use of biochar for mitigation of N2O emissions caused by nitrogen fertilizer applied to soil. For that, alternative biomass sources will be pyrolized at two temperatures in order to obtain the biochar samples. Biochar's fertilizer potential as nitrogen an phosphorus sources will be tested using incubation experiments with soil, for 90 days. A specific incubation experiment will be performed to evaluate biochar carbon stability in soils and its effect on soil cation exchange capacity, wich will be measured at the beginning and at the end of experimentation. Biochar water holding capacity will also be tested, completing its evaluation as soil conditioners according to Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture standards. Finally, biochar samples potential for mitigation of N2O emitted by nitrogen fertilization of soil will be evaluated by a laboratory experiment, consisting of a factorial design of two factor (biochar and N-fertilizer) and two levels (zero and 10 t ha-1 of carbon for biochar or 150 kg ha-1 of N for the fertilizer). Ammonium nitrate will be used as the nitrogen source. After application of the treatments to soil, the N2O emissions will be monitored by gas chromatography (AU)

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