Other USDA Capacity – Research Funding | Energy & Bioproducts
West Virginia | West VA State University Agricultural and Environmental Research Station | 1890 Institutions Region
Biochar: A value-added product for the bioenergy industry.
Some areas of Appalachia have soils with low fertility and agronomic value. In addition, urban development and extractive industry leave behind vulnerable and disturbed lands. If not properly managed, this activity leads to soil erosion, excess water runoff, decline in soil productivity and deterioration of freshwater quality. Moreover, the region's inherently acidic and nutrient-poor soils need improvement to increase agronomic productivity and better contribute to the agriculture of the local economy.
Current activities are focused on identifying potential waste streams and impaired land-use and practices; evaluating the use of industrial, agricultural and municipal byproducts as soil amendments; developing management practices to improve soil function, and agronomic and economic value; and minimizing the adverse impact of anthropogenic activities on natural systems. Biochar is a dusty, charcoal-like carbonaceous co-product of pyrolysis, the process of converting biomass into petroleum-replacement products. Its use as a soil amendment can improve soil fertility and offset carbon emission. WVSU is evaluating the environmental and agronomic impact of biochar as a soil amendment in typical Appalachian soils and developing processes to improve biochar's agronomic value.
Research at West Virginia State University seeks to understand underlying processes and develop technologies and management practices to promote local agricultural economics and to assure the sustainable and environmentally sound use of soil, water and renewable resources in Appalachia. Research has led to the development of biochar as value-added product for the bioenergy industry, with the potential to mitigate the impact of storm water runoff on water quality, divert selected waste streams into valuable products to improve soil fertility, improve productivity of disturbed areas and reclaimed land, and evaluate selected native plants as bioenergy crops.
This project has led to the development of a value-added product for the bioenergy industry to help mitigate the impact of storm water runoff, improve soil fertility and make disturbed areas and reclaimed mine lands more productive.