The use of straw as a soil amendment is a well-known and recommended agronomy practice, but it can lead to negative effects on the soil and crop yield. It has been hypothesized that many problems related to the burying of straw can be overcome by pyrolyzing it. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of straw and its biochar on the biomass production of perennial ryegrass. A pot-based experiment was conducted with three factors: (i) the crop species used as feedstock, (ii) raw or pyrolyzed organic material, and (iii) the rate of organic amendments. The soil in the pots was amended with straw and biochar produced from Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus
) or winter wheat (Triticum aestivum
L.). After soil amendment application, perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne
L.) seeds were sown. During two years of the experiment, the perennial ryegrass above-ground biomass production and root biomass and morphology parameters were determined. Straw and biochar resulted in higher perennial ryegrass above-ground biomass compared with that of the non-fertilized control. However, straw amendment resulted in lower plant yields of above-ground biomass than those of the biochar treatments or the mineral fertilizer control treatment. The feedstock type (Miscanthus or wheat) significantly affected the perennial ryegrass yield. No difference was observed among wheat and Miscanthus biochar, while among straws, Miscanthus resulted in lower perennial ryegrass productivity (the higher rate of straw and biochar as soil amendments resulted in relatively high perennial ryegrass productivity). The organic amendments resulted in relatively high root biomass and length. The root:shoot ratio was lower in the treatments in which biochar was used, whereas feedstock species and amendment rate were not statistically significant for any of the root biomass and morphometric parameters. The results suggest that the use of pyrolyzed straw can be a reliable strategy instead of straw, increasing ryegrass growth and productivity.
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