The Effect of Biochar Application on Soil Properties and Growth of the Model Plant Zea Mays
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The classic way of land cultivation means the use of inorganic fertilizers that are salts that dissolve rapidly in a short time and improve soil fertility. This process negatively affects soil salinity and the life of microorganisms. The use of biochar as a soil conditioner is a promising solution. The aim of the work is to enrich the properties of less fertile soils and to enhance the growth of the model plant Zea mays (corn) by biochar application. We used four different soil types commonly spread in the Czech Republic – regosol, chernozem, cambisol and fluvisol representing a broad range of organic matter content. Also, we applied two different EBC (The European Biochar Certificate) certified biochars for use in agriculture. Corn seeds were germinated and cultivated for 3 months in repeated plant life cycles. Soils and biochar samples were characterized before and after cultivation by TGA, EA, BET, SEM, extraction of organic matter. The effect of biochar application was observed continuously through the measurement of plant height, the number of leaves and cobs. After the finalization of cultivation experiments, the dry mass of individual plants was measured, and root image analysis of every plant was performed. Fluvisol and cambisol have much higher organic matter content than regosol and chernozem. The application of biochar had the most significant impact on regosol regardless of the application dose; these results are in good agreement with the root image analysis. Furthermore, plants in soils treated with biochar had more corn cobs. The analysis on biochar samples showed the continual leaching of both organic and inorganic molecules from biochar to surrounding soil, which is crucial for its possible use as a soil conditioner and confirms the long-timescale positive effect on soil properties.
KeywordsMaize, cultivation, dry mass, image analysis, organic matter, organic carbon, plant growth analysis
Document typePeer reviewed
Document versionFinal PDF
SourceECOCYCLES. 2021, vol. 7, issue 2, p. 46-54.