Biological, physicochemical and plant health responses in lettuce and strawberry in soil or peat amended with biochar

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Biochar, a solid coproduct of biomass pyrolysis, has recently been proposed as soil mendment in agriculture. We studied the effect of biochar on soil and substrate physicochemical properties, plant growth, disease susceptibility and rhizosphere microbiology in two contrasting cropping systems, i.e., lettuce grown in field soil and strawberry grown in white peat. For both systems, changes in the physicochemical properties of the plant growth media were boserved. In the lettuce bio-assay, biochar addition had no effect on crop growth, crop health (Rhizoctonia solani infection test) and rhizosphere
microbiology. In contrast, in the strawberry bioassay, addition of 3% biochar to peat resulted in (i) a higher fresh and dry plant weight, (ii) a lower susceptibility for the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea on both leaves and fruits, and (iii) changes in the rhizosphere microbiology, analysed by Phospholipid Fatty Acid (PLFA) profiling and 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing. Biochar addition led to an increase of bacterial diversity and a shift in composition of the rhizosphere microbiota. Extra inorganic plant nutrition and
lime added to the peat reduced these effects of biochar on the strawberry plants. We conclude that in certain plant growth media, biochar amendment can result in chemical changes that induce multiple responses in the plant, including shifts in the rhizosphere microbiome. Biochar can be beneficial for plant
growth, especially in conditions of limited nutrient availability.
Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
TijdschriftApplied Soil Ecology
Pagina's (van-tot)1-12
PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 1-nov.-2016

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