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Impact of Biochar, Black Liquor, and Fly Ash Application to Soil on Productivity of Wheat in Eastern Washington

This project proposes to investigate application of four materials alone and in combination (biochar, lime, paper mill fly ash, and black liquor) for their potential to reduce soil acidity and improve wheat productivity. Paper mill fly ash and black liquor are by-products of paper production currently treated as waste products. Agricultural lime will be included as a control. Applications will be made to soil collected from fields were acidification and/or aluminum toxicity occur, and to soil cores from no-till fields to evaluate the potential to mitigate acidic stratification. Biochar has potential to reduce soil acidification alone and in combination with paper mill fly ash or lime, to improve soil health. Producing biochar on-farm has potential to improve economic sustainability by producing value-added products (biochar and heat) that can be used on-farm or sold on the open market. Finally, application of biochar to agricultural soils is a socially responsible method to increase atmospheric carbon sequestration and reduce carbon emissions globally from land-use changes. Educational programs will disseminate knowledge through extension pathways on benefits of applying biochar/fly ash in soil health, wheat health and production, and carbon sequestration.
The working hypothesis for this project is that biochar, black liquor, and/or paper mill fly ash applied to an acidic soil alone or in combination, will have a comparable positive benefit to other lime materials used in agriculture on growth and productivity of winter wheat by raising soil pH, enhancing water holding capacity, reducing exchangeable aluminum ions, and limiting development and severity of Cephalosporium stripe.
This project complies with BIOAg program goals by encouraging sustainable agricultural practices (local biochar production and application) to ameliorate the negative consequences of soil acidification.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 179
  • Project Status: Ongoing


  • Principal Investigator(s): Murray, T.
  • Investigator(s): Garcia-Perez, M., Tao, H.
  • Grant Amount: $30,732


  • Grant Amount: $18,000