Effect of Wood-derived Biochar as Growth and Development Medium for Kiwifruit Seedlings

Birkha Bahadur Tamang, Thinley Dorji & Lhap Dorji

ABSTRACT

Application of biochar as a soil amendment has gained attention as a sustainable technology for environmental remediation. However, information on its use as a growing medium amendment in Bhutanese context is presently unavailable. Hence, this study assessed biochar’s physical and chemical properties as well as the response of kiwifruit seedlings to biochar-amended media. Kiwifruit seedlings were grown in different locally available organic growing media containing different quantities of wood biochar. Seven different media namely: treatment 1 (compost, 100%), treatment 2 (wood biochar + compost, 25%: 75%), treatment 3 (wood biochar + compost, 50%: 50%), treatment 4 (wood biochar + compost, 75%: 25%), treatment 5 (wood biochar, 100%), treatment 6 (wood biochar + rice husk, 50%: 50%); and treatment 7 (wood biochar + vermicompost, 50%: 50%) were used. Treatments containing biochar recorded higher pH, implying biochar addition in acidic soil reduces liming need. Kiwifruit seedlings responded significantly to the biochar-amended medium as compared with the unamended controls. This was reflected in the plant growth parameters: plant girth, plant height, taproot length and the number of lateral roots. A significant effect (P≤0.05) in seedling girth (6.60 mm), height (68.60 cm), taproot length (44.40 cm), and lateral roots (25 numbers) was observed in treatment 2 (amended with 25% wood biochar). Likewise, medium prepared with 100% wood biochar (treatment 5) resulted in a minimum effect on all parameters. Our study reveals that biochar amendment can be a method for generating carbon offsets, but at quantities exceeding 25% of the total medium, no significant effect on the overall growth of plants is achieved.

Keywords: Kiwifruit seedling; Medium; Wood biochar; Organic; Plant parameters

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