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NMSU Extension to host Biochar and Soil Health Field Day April 27

  • By Tiffany Acosta
  • 575-646-3929
  • tfrank@nmsu.edu
  • Apr 12, 2022
Wide view of Leyendecker Plant Science Center

New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service will host a Biochar and Soil Health field day from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 at the Leyendecker Plant Science Center, 7200 Plant Science Circle, Las Cruces. 

The field day will focus on how to make biochar, which is the charcoal that is produced by burning organic materials under reduced oxygen conditions, and practices to improve soil health. To register for the field day, visit https://rsvp.nmsu.edu/rsvp/soilhealth3.

“Building the health of arid soils is becoming more critical, especially considering recurrent droughts and the climate change that we are experiencing in the region,” said John Idowu, Extension Plant Sciences Extension Specialist/Extension Agronomist. “Scientists have shown that the soil can become more resilient to the increasing climatic variability when it is healthy.”

Using biochar is one way to build healthy soil, and materials to make biochar often come from agricultural wastes such as pecan wood trimmings, city yard waste, manure and many other organic materials.

The field day will include a demonstration on how to use the Ring of Fire biochar kiln to produce biochar from pecan wood wastes. NMSU’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department fabricated the biochar kiln.

Information also will be shared about the trials at the long-term soil health research and demonstration site at Leyendecker. Field day participants will have the opportunity to see different soil health practices such as cover crops and soil amendments in the field.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Soil Program is funding the biochar project and, in large part, the long-term soil health research site at Leyendecker. The purpose of the Healthy Soil Program is “to promote and support farming and ranching systems and other forms of land management that increase soil organic matter, aggregate stability, microbiology and water retention to improve the health, yield and profitability of the soils of the state.” The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture also has funded a Ph.D. student position to work on the research component of the soil health site.

Contact Idowu at jidowu@nmsu.edu for more information.