BIOCHAR RESEARCH EXPERIENCE FOR TEACHERS: WASTE AND WATER AND AGRICULTURE - CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
The leaching of nutrients from fertilizers applied to sandy agricultural soils is a significant source of surface and groundwater pollution. Biochar produced from wood and plant wastes have high surface area and favorable positive charge that have been shown to improve soil fertility and mitigate nutrient leaching. The presenters, one rural and one urban teacher, studied the ability of biochar sourced from dairy manure and waste water treatment plant biosolids to mitigate the leaching of nitrate and phosphate from sandy agricultural soil columns. These waste-sourced biochars reduced the mass of phosphate leaching by 38-40% and also reduced the initial rate of nitrate leaching.
The presenters’ teaching projects resulting from the RET involve students in researching their own local water quality, producing community education materials on safe and healthy water resources, and performing their own local research into the agricultural use of biochar as a beneficial soil amendment in rural and urban settings. The presenters will share details of both their summer research experience and the classroom lessons and activities they developed.