Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Earth Systems Science

First Advisor's Name

Krishnaswamy Jayachandran

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Leonard Scinto

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Michael Ross

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Biochar, Invasive plant species, Proximate analysis, Atrazine, Adsorption, Desorption, Jalapeno pepper, Bacteria colony, Mycorrhizal fungi, Enzyme activity

Date of Defense



Biochar has been a topic of growing interest in the scientific community. It is a product derived from carbon rich organic materials through the process of pyrolysis. It has received wide attention as a means to improve soil fertility and crop productivity, absorb pollutants in soil, and sequester carbon to mitigate climate change. Recent research on biochar explores its impacts on the environment with particular focus on use as a soil amendment in agriculture. Biochar produced from different biomass and under different production process effects the environmental and agronomic impacts of its application in different ways. This means biochar can be designed to achieve desired goals. Therefore, the advanced understanding of biochar is of utmost importance. This research was aimed to produce and characterize twelve biochars from feedstocks consisting of invasive plant species along with native plants and agricultural residues made at two different production temperatures. Furthermore, this study explored the potential of these biochars as amendments to remove pesticide from soil, thus reducing further groundwater pollution. The effects of the biochars on plant growth, soil microbial population and soil enzyme activities were also investigated. Laboratory studies were conducted to characterize the biochars and also to evaluate their effect on pesticide retention. Garden potted study was done to observe how these biochars influenced plant growth as well as soil microbial and enzyme activities. Results indicated that the production temperatures and type of feedstocks greatly influenced the physicochemical properties of the biochars which subsequently affected their performance. It was found that the type of feedstocks had greater effects on biochar performance than the selected production temperatures. The knowledge from the study will be beneficial to determine the integration of these biochars as an approach towards sustainable agricultural practice and in climate mitigation.





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