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Biochar can be a suitable replacement for Sphagnum peat in nursery production of Pinus ponderosa seedlings

Posted date: May 10, 2018
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: Dumroese, Kasten; Pinto, Jeremiah R.; Heiskanen, Juha; Tervahauta, Arja; McBurney, Katherine G.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Englund, Karl
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Forests. 9: 232.

Abstract

We replaced a control peat medium with up to 75% biochar on a volumetric basis in three different forms (powder, BC; pyrolyzed softwood pellets, PP; composite wood-biochar pellets, WP), and under two supplies of nitrogen fertilizer (20 or 80 mg N) subsequently grew seedlings with a comparable morphology to the control. Using gravimetric methods to determine irrigation frequency and exponential fertilization to ensure all treatments received the same amount of N at a given point in the growing cycle, we successfully replaced peat with 25% BC and up to 50% PP. Increasing the proportion of biochar in the media significantly increased pH and bulk density and reduced effective cation exchange capacity and air-filled porosity, although none of these variables was consistent with resultant seedling growth. Adherence to gravimetric values for irrigation at an 80% water mass threshold in the container revealed that the addition of BC and WP, but not PP, required adjustments to the irrigation schedule. For future studies, we encourage researchers to provide more details about bulk density, porosity, and irrigation regime to improve the potential inference provided by this line of biochar and growing media work.

Citation

Dumroese, R. Kasten; Pinto, Jeremiah R.; Heiskanen, Juha; Tervahauta, Arja; McBurney, Katherine G.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Englund, Karl. 2018. Biochar can be a suitable replacement for Sphagnum peat in nursery production of Pinus ponderosa seedlings. Forests. 9: 232.