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Open AccessTechnical Note
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 723-741; doi:10.3390/agriculture5030723

Fourfold Increase in Pumpkin Yield in Response to Low-Dosage Root Zone Application of Urine-Enhanced Biochar to a Fertile Tropical Soil

1
Ithaka Institute for Carbon Strategies, Ancienne Eglise 9, Arbaz 1974, Switzerland
2
Nepal Agroforestry Foundation (NAF), Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
3
Institute for Environmental Sciences (IMV), University of Life Sciences (NMBU), As, Akershus 1432, Norway
4
Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Oslo 0806, Norway
5
Department of Environmental Sciences and Analytical Chemistry (ACES), Stockholm University, Stockholm 114 18, Sweden
6
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Palermo, via delle Scienze, edificio 4, Palermo 90128, Italy
7
WG Climate Change Research for Special Crops, Department for Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Hochschule Geisenheim University, Von-Lade-Str. 1, Geisenheim D-65366, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bin Gao
Received: 30 July 2015 / Revised: 28 August 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 7 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Biochar on Soil Fertility and Crop Production)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [517 KB, uploaded 7 September 2015]   |  

Abstract

A widely abundant and invasive forest shrub, Eupatorium adenophorum, was pyrolyzed in a cost-efficient flame curtain kiln to produce biochar. The resulting biochar fulfilled all the requirements for premium quality, according to the European Biochar Certificate. The biochar was either applied alone or mixed with fresh cow urine (1:1 volume) to test its capacity to serve as slow release fertilizer in a pumpkin field trial in Nepal. Treatments included cow-manure compost combined with (i) urine-only; (ii) biochar-only or (iii) urine-loaded biochar. All materials were applied directly to the root zone at a biochar dry matter content of 750 kg·ha−1 before seeding. The urine-biochar treatment led to a pumpkin yield of 82.6 t·ha−1, an increase of more than 300% compared with the treatment where only urine was applied, and an 85% increase compared with the biochar-only treatment. This study showed for the first time that a low-dosage root zone application of urine-enhanced biochar led to substantial yield increases in a fertile silt loam soil. This was tentatively explained by the formation of organic coating of inner pore biochar surfaces by the urine impregnation, which improved the capacity of the biochar to capture and exchange plant nutrients. View Full-Text
Keywords: biochar; organic fertilizer; organic coating; flame curtain pyrolysis; pumpkin; urine; root zone fertilizer application biochar; organic fertilizer; organic coating; flame curtain pyrolysis; pumpkin; urine; root zone fertilizer application
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmidt, H.P.; Pandit, B.H.; Martinsen, V.; Cornelissen, G.; Conte, P.; Kammann, C.I. Fourfold Increase in Pumpkin Yield in Response to Low-Dosage Root Zone Application of Urine-Enhanced Biochar to a Fertile Tropical Soil. Agriculture 2015, 5, 723-741.

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