Article | . 2018 Vol. 36, Issue. 4
Effects of Biochar Mixes with Peat-moss Based Substrates on Growth and Development of Horticultural Crops

College of Landscape Architecture, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University1
Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, College Station2
Johnsonville Sausage LLC3
Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering4
Department of Horticulture, Catholic University of Daegu5

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This study investigated the potential of using biochar as a container substrate component to replace peat moss to produce horticultural crops. Biochar was incorporated into commercially available peat moss-based substrate (PM) at 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% (vol.) to grow chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflorum), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and basil (Ocimum basilicum) in containers. Responses of plant growth to the percentage of biochar in substrate mixes was different for the crops. Chrysanthemum grown in PM mixes with 60%, 80% and 100% biochar had significantly higher shoot fresh weight (FW) than in PM alone (0% biochar), while tomato plants in PM mixes with 80% and 100% biochar had lower shoot FW, dry weight (DW), and root rating values. For lettuce, only plants grown in 100% biochar of the second crop (sowed after 52 days of the first crop) had lower FW than those grown in PM mixes without biochar. For basil, the lower root rating was observed in plants grown in PM mixes with 80% biochar, while the highest was observed in plants grown in PM mixes with 20% biochar. Basil grown in PM mixes with 20% biochar had higher dry and fresh weights than those in PM mixes with no biochar. No negative effect on plant growth was observed in mixes with biochar as high as 60%, which was probably due to the similarity between physical properties of biochar and PM tested in this experiment.

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