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Article

Impact of Different Methods of Root-Zone Application of Biochar-Based Fertilizers on Young Cocoa Plants: Insights from a Pot-Trial

1
Ithaka Institute for Carbon Strategies, CH-1974 Arbaz, Switzerland
2
Tropical Plant Production and Agricultural Systems Modelling (TROPAGS), Department of Crop Sciences, University of Göttingen, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
3
Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), University of Göttingen, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
4
Agroscope, Campus Zürich, 8046 Zürich, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to the work.
Academic Editor: Miguel Guzmán
Horticulturae 2022, 8(4), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8040328
Received: 22 March 2022 / Revised: 4 April 2022 / Accepted: 6 April 2022 / Published: 13 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Chars in Growing Media)
Effective and efficient nutrient management is central to best-practice agriculture, facilitating sustainable intensification while reducing negative externalities. The application of biochar-based fertilizers (BBF) in tropical agronomy has the potential to improve nutrient management by enhancing nutrient availability and uptake. Here, we performed pot-trials with Theobroma cacao L. seedlings planted in an Oxisol with critically low phosphorus levels. Four fertilizer levels were deployed, including BBFs using micro-dosed biochar (16 g plant−1 i.e., 0.3% soil amendment w/w) charged with mineral fertilizer. Three different fertilizer-placement levels (topsoil, root-zone hotspot and root-zone layer) were evaluated. The results from the topsoil application of mineral fertilizer (farmer practice) served as the reference data. The root-zone layer application of BBF increased the aboveground biomass, total leaf area and chlorophyll content index by 56%, 222%, and 140% respectively. Foliar phosphorus levels were also significantly elevated by 53%. The N:P ratio of the foliar tissue was improved, indicating the potential of BBF to ameliorate P limitations. Thus, low dosages of biochar, which is upgraded to BBF, can considerably improve plant nutrition. Small scale technology to produce biochar can be easily adopted and integrated in T. cacao systems. We suggest that BBF production and application within tropical, perennial systems can contribute to achieving a range of sustainable development goals (SDGs), including climate action. View Full-Text
Keywords: biochar-based fertilizer; biochar micro-dosing; rootzone-application; nutrient availability; phosphorus limitations; tropical carbon farming; climate change mitigation and adaptation; agroforestry; carbon-sink fertilizer biochar-based fertilizer; biochar micro-dosing; rootzone-application; nutrient availability; phosphorus limitations; tropical carbon farming; climate change mitigation and adaptation; agroforestry; carbon-sink fertilizer
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MDPI and ACS Style

Meyer zu Drewer, J.; Köster, M.; Abdulai, I.; Rötter, R.P.; Hagemann, N.; Schmidt, H.P. Impact of Different Methods of Root-Zone Application of Biochar-Based Fertilizers on Young Cocoa Plants: Insights from a Pot-Trial. Horticulturae 2022, 8, 328. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8040328

AMA Style

Meyer zu Drewer J, Köster M, Abdulai I, Rötter RP, Hagemann N, Schmidt HP. Impact of Different Methods of Root-Zone Application of Biochar-Based Fertilizers on Young Cocoa Plants: Insights from a Pot-Trial. Horticulturae. 2022; 8(4):328. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8040328

Chicago/Turabian Style

Meyer zu Drewer, Johannes, Mareike Köster, Issaka Abdulai, Reimund P. Rötter, Nikolas Hagemann, and Hans P. Schmidt. 2022. "Impact of Different Methods of Root-Zone Application of Biochar-Based Fertilizers on Young Cocoa Plants: Insights from a Pot-Trial" Horticulturae 8, no. 4: 328. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8040328

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