Science Inventory

Amending Jasper County, Missouri soils with biochar and other amendments following chat removal to facilitate soil restoration/revitalization and establishment of a soil-stabilizing plant cover: An ORD and Region 7 Collaboration

Citation:

Johnson, M. AND M. Doolan. Amending Jasper County, Missouri soils with biochar and other amendments following chat removal to facilitate soil restoration/revitalization and establishment of a soil-stabilizing plant cover: An ORD and Region 7 Collaboration. Board of Scientific Councelors review of SHC Program, Cincinatti, Ohio, November 02 - 03, 2016.

Impact/Purpose:

This presentation is designed to convey the rational, purpose and planned research in Jasper County, Missouri to use biochar and other soil amendments to restore and revitalize soils impacted by the residuals of historic lead (Pb) mining. It has been prepared to inform the members of the BOSC who are reviewing the EPAs Safe and Healthy Communities (SHC) National Research Program. This work is a collaboration between the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and EPA Region 7 Office in Kansas City, who have oversite of remediating the impacts of historic Pb mining in the portion of the Tri-State-Mining District (TSMD), located in Missouri. The research is in the site assessment phase in which the nature and condition of soils that have the mining residuals removed are being evaluated. A variety of customized soil amendments, including biochar, are being considered to provide both soil remediation and reestablishment of a soil-stabilizing native plant community at sites in the TSMD. A benefit of using biochar is the ability to engineer its properties to correspond to specific soil remediation needs. Specifically, it has properties that make it well suited for use in remediating mine soils and reestablishing vegetation, with studies indicating that biochar can complex and immobilize heavy metals. This is of critical importance for mining influenced sites. Additionally, biochars can be to adjust soil pH, improve soil water holding properties and to supporting the soil microbiome, thereby promoting healthy soil and plant growth. While not likely to be the sole soil amendment, amending mine soils with biochar may reduce immediate risks due to the leaching of heavy metals and off-site movement of pollutants from contaminated mine spoils. Ultimately, this project will provide guidance for using biochar and other soil amendments to remediate soils in the TSMD and to reestablish native plant communities on the mining affected soils. The results of this research will be directly applicable to sites being remediated with Region 7, and to other sites and Regions across the country. This abstract contributes to SHC 3.63.

Description:

Abandoned mines and the residuals from mining across the U.S. pose a considerable, pervasive risk to human health and the environment. Many soils in the Tri-State-Mining District (TSMD), located where Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma meet, have been affected by the residuals of historic lead and zinc mining. Here we describe a research collaboration between ORD and Region 7 to investigate the use of customized soil amendments, which will include biochar, as a tool to provide both soil remediation and reestablishment of a soil-stabilizing native plant community at sites in the TSMD. Biochar is a charcoal-like, carbon-rich, porous by-product of thermal pyrolysis or gasification. A benefit of using biochar is the ability to engineer its properties to correspond to specific soil remediation needs. Specifically, it has properties that make it well suited for use in remediating mine soils and reestablishing vegetation, with studies indicating that biochar can complex and immobilize heavy metals. This is of critical importance for mining influenced sites. However, the optimized biochar properties for the remediation of acidic mine soils are not yet fully known. Biochar can be produced to have a range of pH values, depending upon feedstock and pyrolysis or gasification conditions, and post-production activation. Therefore, this material may be used as a liming agent to raise soil pH. Additionally, some biochars have been shown to improve soil water holding capacities and infiltration properties. Biochar can be produced with residual sorbed organics from the pyrolysis process that can provide a food source for soil microbial foodwebs, promoting healthy soil and plant growth. Collectively, biochar may serve as a useful component in the remediation of acid mine soils and mining influenced soils. While not a complete site remediation alone, amending mine soils with biochar may reduce immediate risks due to the leaching of heavy metals and off-site movement of pollutants from contaminated mine spoils. This project will initially produce a comprehensive set of biochars from a variety of local feedstocks, and through a targeted series of tests using soil from the TSMD, and more specifically Jasper County, Missouri will identify chemical and physical characteristics of biochar(s) with the most potential to remediate soils and reestablish native plant communities on the mining affected soils.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/POSTER)
Product Published Date: 11/03/2016
Record Last Revised: 02/03/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 335242

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS BRANCH