Biochar has altered plant yields and soil nutrient availability in tropical soils, but less research exists involving biochar additions to temperate cropping systems. Of the existing research, results vary based on soil texture, crop grown, and biochar properties. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of pine (Pinus
spp.) woodchip biochar at 0, 5, and 10 Mg·ha−1
rates combined with urea nitrogen (N) on soil chemical properties and corn (Zea mays
L.) yield under field conditions in the first growing season after biochar addition in a silt-loam alluvial soil. Biochar combined with fertilizer numerically increased corn yields, while biochar alone numerically decreased corn yields, compared to a non-amended control. Corn nitrogen uptake efficiency (NUE) was greater with 10 Mg·ha−1
biochar compared to no biochar. There were limited biochar effects on soil nutrients, but biochar decreased nitrate, total dissolved N, and Mehlich-3 extractable sulfur and manganese concentrations in the top 10 cm. Pine woodchip biochar combined with N fertilizer has the potential to improve corn production when grown in silt-loam soil in the mid-southern U.S. by improving NUE and increasing yield. Further research will be important to determine impacts as biochar ages in the soil.
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