Biochar for the Mitigation of Environmental Stresses and Enhancement of Crop Production

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Response to Abiotic Stress and Climate Change".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021) | Viewed by 17552

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Botany and Microbiology, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Interests: botany; environmental stress; plant physiology; molecular biology; crop production; phytoremediation

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Guest Editor
Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh
Interests: antioxidants; abiotic stress tolerance; plant metabolites; ROS signaling
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental pollution and soil contamination with toxic elements are responsible for climate change, which brings different environmental stresses on flora and fauna. This environmental fluctuation has wreaked havoc as crop production has gone down due to the transformation of fertile land into wastelands. There are many reasons behind the extension of wastelands every year, and some of these are industrial development, urbanization, excess use of fertilizers, pesticides, etc., and environmental stresses such as salinity, heavy metal, drought, temperature, pesticides, etc., which have been proven to cause a decline in crop production as well as soil fertility. On the other hand, feeding an increasing population in such severe environmental conditions is also itself a great challenge, and to face this challenge, the need of the hour is to search for environmentally-friendly and sustainable approaches to alleviate these stresses and enhance crop production without harming the natural environment. One of these potential approaches is the use of biochar to maintain the soil fertility accompanying enhanced crop production.

Biochar, a carbon-rich organic material procured from biomass and wastes, has been reported to have many advantages in ameliorating soil toxicity. Remediation of hazardous contaminants from the soil is one of its major beneficial roles. It has been reported in the literature that the addition of biochar to the soil can enhance the quality of soil and accelerate plant growth and development. The use of biochar for sustainable and long-lasting soil amendments is because (1) it decays very slowly, thus providing benefits for a longer period, and (2) it exhibits high potential to retain nutrients. Soil amendments with biochar enhance soil quality through an increase in soil pH and enhance the potential of holding moisture and exchange of cations, as well as microbial flora.

Keeping in view all the above aspects regarding environmental issues, crop production, and soil amendment with organic matter, this Special Issue intends to highlight the present scenario of environmental pollution and its impact on crop plants and mitigating the role of biochar against these stresses. This Special Issue will be discussing the role of biochar in enhancing plant growth and crop production under different environmental stresses without interfering with the natural environment. Both research and review articles related to the theme of the Special Issue will be entertained. The potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Biochar: chemistry, preparation, and quality aspects;
  • Biochar and plant growth and development;
  • Biochar and soil remediation for pollutants;
  • Biochar and emerging pollutants;
  • Role of biochar in reducing abiotic stress in plants;
  • Role of biochar in improving beneficial soil microbes;
  • Crop production under the biochar amendment;
  • Biochar for crop quality.

Dr. Parvaiz Ahmad
Prof. Dr. Mirza Hasanuzzaman
Prof. Dr. Luigi Sanita' di Toppi
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • abiotic stress
  • heavy metal
  • drought
  • temperature
  • salinity
  • pesticides
  • plant adaptation
  • biochar amendment

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 2375 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Biochar on Indigenous Arbuscular Mycorrhizae Fungi from Agroenvironments
by María Videgain-Marco, Pedro Marco-Montori, Clara Martí-Dalmau, María del Carmen Jaizme-Vega, Joan Josep Manyà-Cervelló and Francisco Javier García-Ramos
Plants 2021, 10(5), 950; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050950 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2803
Abstract
The effects of biochar on soil–plant–microorganisms systems are currently being extensively investigated. Considering that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play an essential role in nutrient dynamics, the present study aims at understanding vine shoot-derived biochar effects on AMF activity and the impact of their [...] Read more.
The effects of biochar on soil–plant–microorganisms systems are currently being extensively investigated. Considering that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play an essential role in nutrient dynamics, the present study aims at understanding vine shoot-derived biochar effects on AMF activity and the impact of their multiplication in soils on water-stress resistance of plants. Three agronomic tests were performed in greenhouse pots. The first experiment evaluated the effects of three factors: final pyrolysis temperature for biochar production (400 °C and 600 °C), application rate (0 weight-wt.- % as a control, 1.5 wt. %, and 3.0 wt. %) and texture of the growing media (sandy-loam and clay-loam origin) on AMF, microbial communities and phosphatase activity. In the second experiment, an indigenous consortium of AMF was multiplied through the solid substrate method and sorghum as a trap plant with biochar addition. This process was compared to a control treatment without biochar. Obtained inocula were tested in a third experiment with lettuce plants under different water irrigation conditions. Results from the first experiment showed a general increase in AMF activity with the addition of the biochar produced at 400 °C in the sandy-loam texture substrate. Results of the second experiment showed that the biochar addition increased AMF root colonization, the number of AMF spores and AMF infective potential. Results of the third experiment showed that biochar-derived AMF inoculum increased AMF root colonization, AMF spores, dry biomass and the SPAD index in a lettuce crop under low-water irrigation conditions. Full article
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15 pages, 1244 KiB  
Article
Biochar Improves Soil-Tomato Plant, Tomato Production, and Economic Benefits under Reduced Nitrogen Application in Northwestern China
by Lili Guo, Huiwen Yu, Mourad Kharbach, Wenqian Zhang, Jingwei Wang and Wenquan Niu
Plants 2021, 10(4), 759; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10040759 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 4455
Abstract
The tomato is an important economic crop that is a main ingredient of some prepared food as well as a focus of the agricultural industry. Optimizing nitrogen (N) fertilizers is essential for sustainable agricultural development, while the excessive use of N fertilizers leads [...] Read more.
The tomato is an important economic crop that is a main ingredient of some prepared food as well as a focus of the agricultural industry. Optimizing nitrogen (N) fertilizers is essential for sustainable agricultural development, while the excessive use of N fertilizers leads to environmental and food production problems. As a soil amendment, biochar has been widely used to improve soil quality and crop yield. However, little information is available on the effects of biochar and N fertilizer reduction on tomato plant, soil characteristics in tomato cultivation and tomato production. In this study, a greenhouse experiment was carried out in Yangling, Shaanxi province, China, including four biochar levels (0, 30, 50, and 70 t ha−1) under drip irrigation and four N application rates (170, 190, 210, and 250 kg ha−1). The results showed that adding too much biochar (e.g., 70 t ha−1) and reducing N fertilizer too far (e.g., by 32%) will not lead to satisfactory results in terms of tomato growth, tomato yield and quality, and economic benefits. Biochar addition could significantly enhance microbial abundance, enzyme activity, and tomato growth compared with non‒biochar treatments when reducing the amount of applied N fertilizer by 16% or 24% (N2 and N3). From the perspectives of tomato yield, tomato quality (sugar‒acid ratio and vitamin C (VC) content), and economic benefits, optimal application rate of biochar and N fertilizer based on the silty clay loam soil of northwest China under drip irrigation is proposed, respectively. The proposal is based on both multidimensional nonlinear regression models and a comparison with experimental treatments. For example, biochar addition at 50 t ha−1 and reducing N fertilizer by 24% achieved the greatest tomato yield. Compared with non-biochar treatment under the corresponding N fertilizer level, soil enzyme activity (urease, phosphatase, and catalase), microbial abundance (bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes), leaf gas exchange parameters (gs, Pn, and Tr), and biomass increased on average by 88.76%, 7.49%, 43.23%, and 39.67%, respectively. Based on a comprehensive consideration of tomato yield, VC content, sugar‒acid ratio, and economic benefits, 35 t ha−1 biochar and 200 kg ha−1 N fertilizer is the recommended combination of biochar and nitrogen fertilizer for local farmers. Full article
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18 pages, 515 KiB  
Article
Efficiency of Wheat Straw Biochar in Combination with Compost and Biogas Slurry for Enhancing Nutritional Status and Productivity of Soil and Plant
by Aown Abbas, Muhammad Naveed, Muhammad Azeem, Muhammad Yaseen, Rehmat Ullah, Saud Alamri, Qurrat ul Ain Farooq and Manzer H. Siddiqui
Plants 2020, 9(11), 1516; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9111516 - 8 Nov 2020
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 4162
Abstract
In the present study, we investigated the impact of different combinations of wheat straw biochar, compost and biogas slurry on maize growth, physiology, and nutritional status in less productive soils. The experiment was performed as a completely randomized block design in a greenhouse [...] Read more.
In the present study, we investigated the impact of different combinations of wheat straw biochar, compost and biogas slurry on maize growth, physiology, and nutritional status in less productive soils. The experiment was performed as a completely randomized block design in a greenhouse pot experiment. The compost and biogas slurry were applied with and without biochar. The results revealed that a combination of biochar, compost, and biogas slurry enhanced the cation exchange capacity (31%), carbon (83%), phosphorus (67%) and potassium (81%) contents in the soil. Likewise, a significant increase in soil microbial biomass carbon (15%) and nitrogen (37%) was noticed with the combined use of all organic amendments. Moreover, the combined application of biochar, compost and biogas slurry enhanced soil urease and β-glucosidase activity up to 96% and 67% over control respectively. In addition, plant height, chlorophyll content, water use efficiency and 1000-grain weight were also enhanced up to 54%, 90%, 53% and 21% respectively, with the combined use of all amendments. Here, biochar addition helped to reduce the nutrient losses of compost and biogas slurry as well. It is concluded that biochar application in combination with compost and biogas slurry could be a more sustainable, environment-friendly and cost-effective approach, particularly for less fertile soils. Full article
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25 pages, 3426 KiB  
Article
Chitosan Modified Biochar Increases Soybean (Glycine max L.) Resistance to Salt-Stress by Augmenting Root Morphology, Antioxidant Defense Mechanisms and the Expression of Stress-Responsive Genes
by Sajid Mehmood, Waqas Ahmed, Muhammad Ikram, Muhammad Imtiaz, Sammina Mahmood, Shuxin Tu and Diyun Chen
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1173; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091173 - 10 Sep 2020
Cited by 62 | Viewed by 4517
Abstract
Soybean is an important oilseed crop that provides high-quality protein and vegetable oil. Salinity constitutes a negative abiotic factor that reduces soybean plant growth, production, and quality. The adsorption of Na+ by chitosan-modified biochar (CMB) has a significant effect on salinity but [...] Read more.
Soybean is an important oilseed crop that provides high-quality protein and vegetable oil. Salinity constitutes a negative abiotic factor that reduces soybean plant growth, production, and quality. The adsorption of Na+ by chitosan-modified biochar (CMB) has a significant effect on salinity but the application of CMB is limited in soybean. In the current study, CMB was used for characterization of physiological, biochemical, and molecular responses of soybean under salt stress. Comparison of CMB and unmodified (as-is) biochar (BR) demonstrated a significant difference between them shown by using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scan electron microscopy (SEM), Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET), elemental analysis and z-potential measurement. Pseudo-first and second-order better suited for the analysis of Na+ adsorption kinetics. The salt-stress reduced the soybean plants growth, root architecture characteristics, biomass yield, nutrients acquisition, chlorophyll contents, soluble protein, and sugar contents, while CMB with salt-stress significantly increased the above parameters. Moreover, CMB also reduced the salinity-induced increase in the Na+, glycine betaine (GB), proline, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels in plants. The antioxidant activity and gene expression levels triggered by salinity but with the application of CMB significantly further boosted the expression profile of four genes (CAT, APX, POD and SOD) encoding antioxidant enzyme and two salt-tolerant conferring genes (GmSALT3 and CHS). Overall, these findings demonstrate the crucial role of CMB in minimizing the adverse effects of high salinity on soybean growth and efficiency of the mechanisms enabling plant protection from salinity through a shift of the architecture of the root system and enhancing the antioxidant defense systems and stress-responsive genes for achieving sustainable crop production. Full article
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