Recent studies on using soil enhancer material, such as biochar, provide varying results from a soil hydrological and chemical perspective. Therefore, research focusing on soil-biochar-plant interactions is still necessary to enhance our knowledge on complex effects of biochar on soil characteristics. The present study investigated the changes in soil water content (SWC) and soil respiration (belowground CO2
production) over time during the growth of Capsicum annuum
(pepper) in pot experiments. Concurrently, we investigated the influence of grain husk biochar with the amount of 0, 0.5%, 2.5%, and 5.0% (by weight) added to silt loam soil. Pepper plants were grown under natural environmental conditions to better represent field conditions, and additional irrigation was applied. SWC among treatments showed minor changes to precipitation during the beginning of the study while plants were in the growing phase. The highest water holding throughout the experiment was observed in the case of BC5.0. CO2
production increased in biochar amended soils during the first few days of the experiments; while the overall cumulative CO2
production was the highest in control and the lowest in BC2.5 treatments. We used the HYDRUS 1D soil hydrological model to simulate changes in SWC, using the control treatment without biochar as a reference data source for model calibration. The simulated SWC dynamics fitted well the measured ones in all treatments. Therefore, the HYDRUS 1D can be an exceptionally valuable tool to predict the hydrological response of different amount of biochar addition to silt loam soil including plant growth.
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