Biochar as an amendment to improve the quality of highly degraded soils
Zolue, Gondah Moses
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In Africa, significant amount of soil amendment is derived from feedstocks, including rice husk, rice straw, corn straw, and saw dust. These materials are generally burned or abandoned to drainage systems or landfills, both of which negatively impact the environment. A promising alternative to these methods is to convert these materials into biochars, which are porous, carbonaceous solids produced by burning organic materials. The overall objective of this series of experiments was to determine the differences in the physical and chemical properties of the biochar produced from rice husk, rice straw, corn straw and saw dust. Determine the effects of biochar on soil organic C and N mineralization and changes in soil pH and electrical conductivity after a 56 day laboratory incubation period. Determine the effects of biochar on soil bulk density, soil water content, rice growth, soil pH and electrical conductivity in a glass house experiment and evaluate the effect of biochar on rice growth and development and nutrient uptake in a field experiment. The CO2–C respiration from biochar-amended soil increased approximately 2.5 times more than the control during the incubation period while nitrogen mineralization with biochar amendments were less than the nitrogen mineralization of the control over the entire incubation period. With greenhouse and filed studies, nutrient availability was enhanced with biochar application thus leading to a positive response of the rice growth. It further showed a significant improvement in tiller number, plant height and dry biomass compared to the control.