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Waste to wisdom: improving soil productivity while reducing fire risk

Date: November 20, 2014
Presenter(s): Deborah S. Page-Dumroese
Description: Bioenergy production from forest biomass offers a solution to reduce wildfire hazard fuel levels, decrease insect and disease outbreaks, and reduce the incidence of invasive species while producing a useful source of renewable energy. However, on-site bioenergy production and the subsequent application of biochar to forest sites raise concerns about increasing water repellency, changing nutrient retention and release, or altering belowground processes. I will put the current effort for biomass to bioenergy work into perspective by describing the outcomes of the Coram Experimental Forest bioenergy project from the mid-1970's, discussing the current state of slash pile use, and illustrate how fast pyrolysis can be used instead of slash pile burning to improve soil productivity. Although the use of biochar shows promise in many areas there are many forest soil impacts that still need to be described. For example, laboratory studies have described changes in soil enzymes responsible for decomposition, infiltration rate, and water holding capacity. Field studies have shown no detrimental effects on tree growth, but all of the impacts of how much, where, when, and what kind of biochar still need to be determined. Biochar applications should be considered on a site specific basis since not all biochars and soils are similar.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Soils, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Fuels
Ecosystem(s): None
Type: Webinar
NRFSN number: 13049
FRAMES RCS number: 18728
Record updated: May 24, 2018