ARTi Biochar Researcher Profile Series: Periodically ARTi will feature articles on stand-out researchers and extensionists in biochar. The biochar field has seen a multitude of outstanding scientific work done by excellent researchers who have contributed tremendously to this emerging sector.
Biochar Researcher Profile: Dr. Deborah Aller, Agricultural Stewardship Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County
Dr. Aller has been engaged in unique and relevant work in Suffolk County, Long Island examining if biochar can contribute to increasing nutrient availability and soil water retention, and decreasing leaching losses in field and container nursery production. The field experiments were conducted at a privet nursery and a Christmas tree farm in 2019 with another privet nursery to be added in 2020. The hardwood biochar was provided by ARTiChar. The California Privet and Douglas Fir Christmas trees were chosen as they are prone to nutrient management concerns that have yet to be fully addressed by conventional methods. Dr. Aller, her colleague Mina Vescera, and their partnering nursery growers will be monitoring treatment differences via soil moisture and water potential sensors, lysimeter collected leachate samples, and soil, foliar, and roots samples. The project is ongoing, with funding until 2022, and we are looking forward to hearing about the progress. Deborah and us at ARTi are excited to see how the biochar addition contributes to nutrient availability, uptake and soil water retention in nursery crop production.
Deborah Aller has also done some great work in examining biochar’s effects on corn yields in the US midwest taking yield and profitability into account. She has worked on comparing the impacts of different aged biochars on soil water retention and soil quality as well as biochar research on soybean root disease. Further, Dr. Aller led a study to refine a method to analyze different types of biochars.
Link to Dr. Deborah Aller and Mina Vescera’s Northeast SARE funded biochar project on Long Island: https://projects.sare.org/project-reports/lne19-384r/
Link to Dr. Deborah Aller’s thesis that utilized studies at the laboratory, greenhouse, field, and modeling scales to advance understanding of the impacts of biochar type and biochar aging on soil physical and chemical properties, soil water dynamics, and crop productivity. Available for download: https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/16066/
Link to further scientific articles by Dr. Aller: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Deborah_Aller
Privet field at trial setup.
Douglas fir Christmas tree field at trial setup.
Installation of soil moisture and water potential sensors at participating Christmas tree farm.
Lysimeters installed in privet field to monitor nitrogen leaching.