Presentation Title

Effects of Biochar on Soil Water Retention, pH and Radish (Raphanus sativus) Plant Growth

Location

Atrium

Session Format

Poster Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Natural & Physical Sciences - Environmental Sciences & Sustainability

Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Subhrajit Saha, Assistant Professor

Department of Biology

Abstract

Biochar is a soil amendment that is being recognized for its ability to increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of soil, sequester carbon and promote plant growth. We conducted a greenhouse study at Georgia Southern University (GSU), Statesboro, GA, USA, to test the effects of different types of biochar on growth of a common root crop Radish (Raphanus sativus) and soil properties such as water retention and pH. Three local sources of biochar (cotton stalk - Gossypium hirsutum; mixed pine cone - Pinus spp.; and switchgrass - Panicum virgatum) and a commercial biochar (mixed wood) were compared for their effects on plant and soil. The purpose of using local sources was to encourage the use of local crops and their byproducts. The local-source biochar was produced using a pyrolyzer that has been fabricated by at GSU. The commercial biochar was purchased from Waste to Energy Solutions, Al, USA.

The study was conducted on a raised metal diamond mesh table in a fully climate controlled greenhouse and plants were grown in 12ʺ diameter containers filled with topsoil. Four types of biochar were applied at 6% (of soil volume) with a control (no biochar) totaling five treatments and 5 replications. Randomized complete block design was used as the experimental design. Water was applied every 48 hours interval uniformly at an amount of 60 ml per application for first 20 days, followed by 100 ml per application rest of the study. Water retention was measured regularly at an interval of 48 hours and soil pH and plant growth was measured once every week. The commercial had the most biomass produced, followed by cotton. The other three were not significantly different from one another in terms of biomass. As for pH, the commercial biochar range was inconsistent with all other treatment ranges, starting out very acidic (~5.0) and later increased in alkalinity towards 6.5 pH. All other treatments maintained a pH range of 1.0, but, were not identical amongst the groups. Water retention was uniformed for all treatments, except for the significantly lower commercial that produced lots of vegetation growth.

Keywords

Agricultural residue, Biochar-Pyrolyzer, Carbon sequestration, Crop yield, Local feedstock

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-24-2015 2:45 PM

End Date

4-24-2015 4:00 PM

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Apr 24th, 2:45 PM Apr 24th, 4:00 PM

Effects of Biochar on Soil Water Retention, pH and Radish (Raphanus sativus) Plant Growth

Atrium

Biochar is a soil amendment that is being recognized for its ability to increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of soil, sequester carbon and promote plant growth. We conducted a greenhouse study at Georgia Southern University (GSU), Statesboro, GA, USA, to test the effects of different types of biochar on growth of a common root crop Radish (Raphanus sativus) and soil properties such as water retention and pH. Three local sources of biochar (cotton stalk - Gossypium hirsutum; mixed pine cone - Pinus spp.; and switchgrass - Panicum virgatum) and a commercial biochar (mixed wood) were compared for their effects on plant and soil. The purpose of using local sources was to encourage the use of local crops and their byproducts. The local-source biochar was produced using a pyrolyzer that has been fabricated by at GSU. The commercial biochar was purchased from Waste to Energy Solutions, Al, USA.

The study was conducted on a raised metal diamond mesh table in a fully climate controlled greenhouse and plants were grown in 12ʺ diameter containers filled with topsoil. Four types of biochar were applied at 6% (of soil volume) with a control (no biochar) totaling five treatments and 5 replications. Randomized complete block design was used as the experimental design. Water was applied every 48 hours interval uniformly at an amount of 60 ml per application for first 20 days, followed by 100 ml per application rest of the study. Water retention was measured regularly at an interval of 48 hours and soil pH and plant growth was measured once every week. The commercial had the most biomass produced, followed by cotton. The other three were not significantly different from one another in terms of biomass. As for pH, the commercial biochar range was inconsistent with all other treatment ranges, starting out very acidic (~5.0) and later increased in alkalinity towards 6.5 pH. All other treatments maintained a pH range of 1.0, but, were not identical amongst the groups. Water retention was uniformed for all treatments, except for the significantly lower commercial that produced lots of vegetation growth.