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Gasified rice hull biochar is a source of phosphorus and potassium for container-grown plants

Altland, James E., Locke, James C.
Journal of Environmental Horticulture 2013 v.31 no.3 pp. 138
Pelargonium hortorum, ammonium nitrate, biochar, chlorosis, container-grown plants, liquid fertilizers, mineral soils, nutrient availability, phosphorus, plant growth, potassium, rice, rice hulls, soilless media
Biochar materials have been reported to improve the chemical, physical, and biological properties of mineral soils and soilless substrates. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of gasified rice hull biochar (GRHB) on available nutrients in a container substrate. Two experiments were conducted in a glasshouse with geranium (Pelargonium xhortorum ‘Maverick Red’) in 10 cm (4 in) pots. Geranium were potted in commercial soilless medium (Sunshine Mix #2) amended with 0 to 10% GRHB. Control pots were fertilized with a commercial complete liquid fertilizer (20N-4.4P-16.6K-0.15Mg-0.02B-0.01Cu-0.1Fe-0.05Mn-0.01Mo-0.05Zn), while GRHB-amended crops were fertilized with ammonium nitrate. Additional GRHB substrates were amended with either 0 or 0.9 kg/m-3 (1.5 lb/yd-3) micronutrient package (Micromax). The GRHB amendment had little or no effect on substrate pH. Amendment with GRHB increased available phosphate and potassium in substrate leachates compared to the commercially fertilized controls. Substrates amended with GRHB alone were chlorotic and grew less than those amended with GRHB and micronutrients. These data demonstrate that GRHB provides sufficient P and K to support a six week production cycle of geranium, but lacks either the correct concentration or balance of micronutrients for healthy growth.