Integration of Biochar into Manure Utilization Strategies: Investigating Microbiological Issues Related to Biochar Application to Agricultural Soils
The state of Idaho has abundant biomass resources such as forest, crop and livestock residues that can be processed to create value added products. The solid residues of such processes can be converted to biochar, a soil amendment that has the potential to increase productivity of soil and its capacity to sequester carbon. However, the interactions between different types of biochar and microbial communities in application areas such as heavily manured soils and compost are still unclear. This proposed study aims to study the impacts of the interactions of biochar with manure and compost on associated microbial communities, including specific functional groups such as nitrifiers, denitrifiers and potential pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7. The approach will utilize laboratory-scale microcosms including soil columns, small composters
and greenhouse pots to study biochar effects on manure, compost and plant growth, respectively. The results of this study are expected to benefit the state's forest and soil conservation efforts. Moreover, the proposed project complements the state's bioenergy initiatives as well as the dairy industry's waste management efforts.