Extension Educator, Environmental and Energy Stewardship
December 7, 2012
June 15, 2012
The Cass and Mason county plots are progressing nicely, and look good even though it has been dry.
Soil samples were taken in Cass and Mason on June 13, and I will get samples from the Calhoun site next week.
There appears to be a very slight height advantage in the biochar plots compared to the control plots, but otherwise the plots all look the same.
May 31, 2012
May 1, 2012
All 3 biochar plots have been planted to corn. I will start to post pictures of plots in the next few days, and will continue to post pictures throughout the growing season.
April 12, 2012
April 12, 2012
April 11, 2012
Welcome to the Sustaining Illinois Resources blog! This blog is intended to provide information related to natural resource management and energy, and it is hoped that it will reach people within the 5 county unit, and outside the unit as well.
To give you a little background on myself- I am an Extension Educator in Environmental Stewardship and Energy, and have been with University of Illinois Extension since 1993. Prior to that, I was an Executive Director for a county office with the Farm Services Agency, and before that a Resource Conservationist with a Soil and Water Conservation District. My academic background is in physical geography, with an emphasis in meterology/climatology.
My first entries will discuss a field study I am doing this year, involving the use of biochar as a soil amendment. Biochar is a form of charcoal that is created from the burning of plant materials in a low oxygen environment.
The use of biochar as a soil amendment is not new, but it is a new concept in the United States.
Terra Prieta (dark earths) are areas where indigenous populations living in the Amazonian jungle in South America created very productive soils by using biochar hundreds of years ago. These soils are productive to this day. Other civilizations have used biochar as a soil amendment, including Japan and parts of Europe.
The field study I am doing is using biochar in replicated plots in 3 areas where organic matter contents are low. These sites include "timber" soils in Cass (Jim Edgar/Panther Creek Conservation Area-- 2.2% OM), in Calhoun county (McCully Heritage Demonstration Farm--2.4% OM), and in a sandy loam soil in Mason County (Central Illinois Irrigated Growers Research/Demonstration area-- 2.7% OM). Two application rates of biochar, in this case produced from wood pellets, of 10 tons and 20 tons per acre, will be compared to plots where no biochar is applied. Three replications of each application rate will be examined at each site.
As of today, all 3 plots have had biochar applied. I will be adding pictures of the sites with my next entry.
If you have any questions about this study, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org