Postgraduate Profiles

Kerrie Burns

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Thesis: Biochar and its Impacts on the Structure of Australian Agricultural Soils

This project aims to understand the impact of biochar additions on the structure of several different Australian agricultural soils. The project will involve measuring key soil structural attributes such as wet aggregate stability on samples taken from existing biochar field trial sites in Australia. A large pot trial will be undertaken and changes in soil structure will be measured over time using both traditional methods and more novel techniques like X-ray CT. Furthermore, the project aims to understand the underlying processes involving biochar that lead to any observed changes in soil structure in the pot trial.

Why my research is important

Soil structure underpins several functions in soil, such as the water holding capacity, transmission of water, air and root penetration. The soils of Australian agricultural soils have undergone massive degradation since European settlement as a result of past and current cultivation practices, which has led to a reduction in agricultural productivity. If biochar is able to improve the structural properties of soils there are potential economic benefits for farmers from increased productivity, as well as environmental benefits from improved soil water holding capacity and potentially increased carbon sequestration.

Funding

Feb 2009

Jan 2014

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