Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date

2020

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Bruce Millett

Keywords

agricultural geography, biochar, Northern Glaciated Plains, remote sensing, soil fertility, soybean

Abstract

Achieving global sustainable agriculture is one of the most incredible challenges of this century, yet many continue to try to solve this problem through the development of precision technologies. Biotechnologies, such as biochar, can perform like a precision technology while protecting agricultural land from soil erosion and fertility loss. The Northern Glaciated Plains ecoregion of the United States is little researched in the benefits from the use of biochar through improved soil nutrient capture and water retention, crop health improvements, and yield increases. The study plot has four sections of corn stover biochar and eight sections of control sections. This project assessed soil chemical properties by testing topsoil samples, resulting in increased soil pH and electrical conductivity in biochar-amended soils. Remotely sensed normalized difference vegetation index images created from a spectral camera measured soybean phenology through reproductive growth stages and showed the positive effect biochar has on health and associated greenness of soybean plants. Destructive, dry weight soybean biomass measurements taken at soybean maturity showed increased soybean biomass in biochar amended plot sections. The goal was to determine how biochar reacts with a haploboroll soil in Brookings County, South Dakota and if biochar application is an appropriate management strategy for this soil and soils of the greater Northern Glaciated Plains ecoregion of the United States. In this study, results conclude that biochar application may not have the significant productivity increases necessary to make biochar a highly recommended amendment for this region through this study’s soil and soybean reactions to biochar, but biochar has the potential to reduce soil productivity loss through other aspects of soil fertility improvement.

Format

application/pdf

Number of Pages

153

Publisher

South Dakota State University

Rights

Copyright © 2020 Kaitlyn Abrahamson

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