Biochar application to a fertile sandy clay loam in boreal conditions: effects on soil properties and yield formation of wheat, turnip rape and faba bean
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Background and aims
We studied the effect of different biochar (BC) application rates on soil properties, crop growth dynamics and yield on a fertile sandy clay loam in boreal conditions.
In a three-year field experiment conducted in Finland, the field was divided into three sub-experiments with a split-plot experimental design, one for each crop: wheat (Triticum aestivum), turnip rape (Brassica rapa), and faba bean (Vicia faba). The main plot factor was BC rate (0, 5 and 10 t DM ha−1) and the sub-plot factor was the N-P-K fertiliser rate. Soil physico-chemical properties as well as plant development, yield components and quality were investigated.
BC addition did not significantly affect the soil chemical composition other than the increased C and initially increased K contents. Increased soil moisture content was associated with BC application, especially at the end of the growing seasons. BC decreased the N content of turnip rape and wheat biomass in 2010, thus possibly indicating an initial N immobilisation. In dry years, the seed number per plant was significantly higher in faba bean and turnip rape when grown with BC, possibly due to compensation for decreased plant density and relieved water deficit. However, the grain yields and N uptake with BC addition were not significantly different from the control in any year.
Even though BC application to a fertile sandy clay loam in a boreal climate might have relieved transient water deficit and thereby supported yield formation of crops, it did not improve the yield or N uptake.
KeywordsBrassica rapa Nitrogen uptake Triticum aestivum Vicia faba Water retention Yield components
The authors are grateful to Sampo Tukiainen (Preseco Oy) for providing the biochar, Mikko Hakojärvi for his help with the TDR measurements, Markku Tykkyläinen for his technical assistance with the field experiments and Johanna Muurinen for her assistance with biochar and soil analysis. The contribution of Xiaoyulong Chen and Juho Honkala with yield component analyses is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Markku Yli-Halla and anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions and comments. This research was funded by Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.
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