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Biochar potential in intensive cultivation of Capsicum annuum L. (sweet pepper): crop yield and plant protection

Kumar, Abhay, Elad, Yigal, Tsechansky, Ludmila, Abrol, Vikas, Lew, Beni, Offenbach, Rivka, Graber, Ellen R
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2018 v.98 no.2 pp. 495-503
Capsicum annuum, Lactuca sativa, Leveillula taurica, Polyphagotarsonemus latus, anthocyanins, biochar, carotenoids, chlorophyll, crop yield, disease resistance, electrical conductivity, fertilizers, field experimentation, fruits, lettuce, nutrients, pH, pests, plant protection, powdery mildew, soil, soil organic matter, sweet peppers, Israel
BACKGROUND: The influence of various biochars on crop yield and disease resistance of Capsicum annuum L. (sweet pepper) under modern, high input, intensive net house cultivation was tested over the course of 2011–2014 in the Arava desert region of Israel. A pot experiment with Lactuca sativa L. (lettuce) grown in the absence of fertilizer employed the 3‐year‐old field trial soils to determine if biochar treatments contributed to soil intrinsic fertility. RESULTS: Biochar amendments resulted in a significant increase in the number and weight of pepper fruits over 3 years. Concomitant with the increased yield, biochar significantly decreased the severity of powdery mildew (Leveillula taurica) disease and broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) pest infestation. Biochar additions resulted in increased soil organic matter but did not influence the pH, electrical conductivity or soil or plant mineral nutrients. Intrinsic fertility experiments with lettuce showed that two of the four biochar‐treated field soils had significant positive impacts on lettuce fresh weight and total chlorophyll, carotenoid and anthocyanin contents. CONCLUSION: Biochar‐based soil management can enhance the functioning of intensive, commercial, net house production of peppers under the tested conditions, resulting in increased crop yield and plant resistance to disease over several years. © 2017 Society of Chemical Industry