Sunday, 21 January 2018

Biochar and maize study in Nepal

Biochar improves maize growth by alleviation of nutrient stress in a moderately acidic low-input Nepalese soil

Under a Creative Commons license
  Open Access


Soil limitations (moisture, nutrients, acidity) were manipulated one by one to find out why biochar improved crop growth.
Biochar addition increased soil pH, plant available P, K and soil moisture retention in this weathered Nepalese soil.
The biochar effect on plant growth was mainly due to alleviation of nutrient stress.


We studied the role of biochar in improving soil fertility for maize production. The effects of biochar on the alleviation of three potential physical-chemical soil limitations for maize growth were investigated, i.e. water stress, nutrient stress and acid stress. Experiments involved soils with two dosages of biochar (0.5% and 2% w:w), as well as ones without biochar, in combination with four different dosages of NPK fertilizer, water and lime. Biochar was produced from the invasive shrubby weed Eupatorium adenophorum using flame curtain kilns. This is the first study to alleviate one by one the water stress, nutrient stress and acid stress in order to investigate the mechanisms of biochar effects on soil fertility.
Biochar addition increased soil moisture, potassium (K) and plant available phosphorous (P-AL), which all showed significant positive relationship (p < 0.001) with above ground biomass of maize. However, biochar was much more effective at abundant soil watering (+ 311% biomass) than at water-starved conditions (+ 67% biomass), indicating that biochar did increase soil moisture, but that this was not the main reason for the positive biomass growth effects. Biochar addition did have a stronger effect under nutrient-stressed conditions (+ 363%) than under abundant nutrient application (+ 132%). Biochar amendment increased soil pH, but liming and pH had no effect on maize dry biomass, so acidity stress alleviation was not the mechanism of biochar effects on soil fertility.
In conclusion, the alleviation of nutrient stress was the probably the main factor contributing to the increased maize biomass production upon biochar addition to this moderately acidic Inceptisol.

Friday, 19 January 2018

More on Biochar & AD @BiomassMagazine

Biochar could benefit anaerobic digestion of animal manure @BiomassMagazine: New research by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists shows biochar has potential to make anaerobic digestion of animal manure a more efficient method to rid farms of waste while producing methane for energy.

see also:

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Biochar Effects on Rice Paddy: Meta-analysis

Biochar Effects on Rice Paddy: Meta-analysis


Rice is staple for nearly half of the world population. Biochar (BC) improves crop yields, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and immobilizes heavy metals in the soil. This study was aimed to meta-analyze the data from the published articles focused on the various BCs’ effects on rice yield, soil acidity, GHG emissions, and bioavailability of Cd and Pb. The data of pyrolysis temperature, application rate, and feedstock of BCs were categorized by using the MetaWin software for calculating the mean effect sizes (E) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Compared to the control, the BCs increased soil pH and rice yield by 11.8% (medium E +: 0.436 to 0.439) and 16% (large E +: 0.790 to 0.883), respectively. Applying BCs derived from different feedstocks and pyrolysis temperatures reduced N2O emissions from rice paddies (large E −: − 0.692 to − 0.863). The BCs produced at 550–600°C reduced the GHG emission with medium to large negative effects (E −: − 1.571 to − 0.413). Applications of BCs at a range of 41–50 t ha− 1 were the best for rice productivity. Applications of all types and rates of BCs showed the significant decrease of available Cd by 35.4%–38.0% in a soil and led to the Cd reduction by an average of 43.6% in rice grains compared to the untreated soils. Applying BC is a promising approach to meet the challenges of sustainable global rice production, and the properties of BCs should be fully characterized and designed depending on its needs prior to its application.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Biochar STiR in tea industry in Sri Lanka

Another report from the Sri Lanka tea industry on their successes with incorporating biochar into their soil management systems. The next important step should be the closing the loop on biomass to biochar by using the pyrolysis or gasification heat for energy utilisation. Link to article from image below...