Harry Groot

I wonder if there's a way to provide access to those interested on this discussion list rather than multiple requests from individuals?  I for one am interested in reading the thesis (or individual papers) and would be surprised if there weren't many more if it were easily accessible.


On Mon, May 4, 2020 at 9:37 PM Ron Larson <rongretlarson@...> wrote:
List:  cc Tom M, Si  Gao (Thesis author),  Tom Deluca (thesis advisor)

Thanks to Tom Miles for finding this thesis - which I found well worth reading for those on this list interested in these sort of topics:
a.  Why biochar provides positive results
b.  Productive use of unhealthy forest biomass
c.  The relationship of biochar to Phosphorus
d.  Ranch land biochar
e.   Modern in-field research techniques.
f.   The production of biochar theses
Five chapters - four already independently published - and (I think) all non-fee.

The University of Montana cite below was still today embargoing the thesis, but Tom Miles and I received a copy from (to be Dr.) Gao - who said: "Feel free to circulate to whoever may be interested! “    

So list members might try the cite below - or contacting Ms. Gao yourself.  My copy is now marked up enough to have lost value to others.  Googling for Ms Gao’s and Dr. DeLuca’s names and “biochar" will give the half-dozen biochar papers which she and Dr. DeLuca have authored over the past few years (and that make up this thesis).   

This is an example statement (emphases added) from the thesis' P 74.    "To our knowledge, this is the first study adopting a molecular approach in evaluating soil biotic P mobilization processes following biochar addition in an organic farming systems thus providing essential insights into the soil biological P transformation and availability in response to biochar addition in agricultural ecosystems.

Chapters 2 and 3 report on a 6-farm application of biochar.  The 4th chapter was a surprise - on “micro” in-soil testing:  what is happening near to individual biochar particles.

The last chapter is quite different from the first four - dealing with biochar application to ranch land.  A paper for this chapter is in process, so the thesis might be the only place list members are able to read this brand new material.   Many more hypotheses  (“maybe”, “could”, etc) - but it seems to confirm generally that biochar has many more positive impacts with phosphorous than with the many forms of nitrogen.

The thesis is silent on economics, but I feel is overall quite positive on biochar (and its economics).  It is giving considerable new biochar rationale information based on very capable detective work

So congratulations to this thesis team.   Any other recent doctoral theses we haven’t heard about?  


On May 2, 2020, at 9:54 AM, Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

Wildfire cause a rapid and sometimes dramatic loss of carbon and nitrogen from forest ecosystems, but it also leaves behind ash and charcoal on the soil surface, both of which affect soil properties, processes, and function. Some of these effects may be induced by applying charcoal or biochar to surface soils. Biochar is the term given to the carbon rich product of thermochemical decomposition of organic material in an oxygen limited environment that is explicitly intended for soil application. Producing biochar from wood residues from timber harvest and applying it to nearby soils may represent a means of reducing carbon emissions associated with wood residue management while providing an innovative approach to potentially improve soil fertility and plant productivity. To date, few biochar studies have been conducted as a part of a holistic closed loop system across ecosystems. The purpose of this dissertation was therefore to improve our understanding of how locally produced wood biochar influences soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) dynamics in organic agriculture, temperate forest, and semi-natural rangeland ecosystems in the Northwestern US. Several key findings from the experiments conducted at sites in WA and MT include: (1) Applying wood biochar alone on a relatively fertile agricultural soil generally had a neutral effect on soil N turnover, but by contrast, biochar increased soil nitrification and N mobility in a natural, organic rich rangeland ecosystem; (2) Combining wood biochar with an organic fertilizer created positive synergistic effects on soil N cycling rates and availability while reducing N leaching potential; (3) Soil P bioavailability was generally increased by wood biochar application regardless of ecosystem type or the combined use of fertilizer. This result appeared to be primarily a function of biochar characteristics and potentially associated with abiotic P mobilization processes rather than biotic mechanisms; (4) Slight acidic soils benefit from wood biochar the most at their multi-functionality in N or P cycling compared to pH neutral or alkaline soils; (5) Wood biochar immediately accelerated solution N flux rates in the charosphere of temperate mixed-forest soil that features a sandy loam texture and neutral pH, a result highlighting the uncertainty in, and the dynamism of, the responses of nutrient pools and fluxes to biochar additions across different scales; and (6) Wood biochar did not impart any negative impacts on soil processes examined in these studies. Overall, this work provides an important contribution to our collective knowledge of the value and function of locally produced wood biochar as a bio-enhancing soil amendment for ecosystem nutrient management in the Northwestern US.
Tom Miles
Executive Director
U.S. Biochar Initiative
"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

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