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Biochar Type, Ratio, and Nutrient Levels in Growing Media Affects Seedling Production and Plant Performance

Antonios Chrysargyris, Munoo Prasad, Anna Kavanagh, Nikos Tzortzakis
Agronomy 2020 v.10 no.9 pp. -
Fagus, Lactuca sativa, Picea, antioxidant activity, antioxidants, biochar, chlorophyll, fertilizer rates, fertilizers, growing media, leaves, leeks, lettuce, lipid peroxidation, nutrient availability, nutrient content, nutrients, pH, peat, peroxidase, plant growth, screening, seedling production, seedlings, seeds, stomatal conductance, tomatoes, wood
Biochar can be used as an alternative component in growing media, positively affecting plant growth/yield, but also media properties. In the present study, two commercial grade biochars (BFW-forest wood; and BTS-fresh wood screening), mainly wood-based materials, were used at 7.5% and 15% (v/v), adding nutrient in two levels (100% and 150% standard fertilizer level-Fert). Biochar affected growing media properties, with increases on pH and changes on the nutrient content levels. Biochar BFW enhanced the emergence of seeds in comparison to the control. Increased fertilizer levels benefited plant yield in BFW and BTS at 7.5%, but not at 15%. Leaf stomatal conductance was reduced at 150% fertilized biochars (BFW + Fert and BTS + Fert) at 7.5%, while total chlorophylls increased at BTS + Fert at 7.5% and 15%. The addition of biochars decreased the antioxidant activity in the plant. Lipid peroxidation in lettuce was increased in most cases with the presence of biochars (BFW, BTS) and 150% fertilization, activating antioxidant (superoxide oxidase and peroxidase) enzymatic metabolisms. The addition of Biochars in the growing media increased the content of nutrients in seedlings, as plants could absorb more available nutrients. Biochar of beech, spruce, and pine species (BFW) at 7.5% was more promising for substituting peat to produce lettuce seedlings. However, examining different species (tomato, leek, impatiens, and geranium) with BFW at 7.5%, the results were not common, and each species needs to be evaluated further.