Plant and Soil

, Volume 396, Issue 1–2, pp 127–136 | Cite as

Response of maize germination and growth to hydrothermal carbonization filtrate type and amount

  • Georgiy V. Vozhdayev
  • Kurt A. SpokasEmail author
  • Joseph S. Molde
  • Steven M. Heilmann
  • Brandon M. Wood
  • Kenneth J. Valentas
Regular Article



The option of using hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) filtrate as a liquid based fertilizer for agricultural crop production was evaluated through germination and plant growth studies using corn (Zea Mays L.).


Corn growth trials were conducted in a growth chamber with artificial lighting and controlled temperature programming in washed silica sand amended with condensed distillers soluble (CDS), swine manure, or poultry litter HTC filtrates. Seedling growth trials were conducted over a period of 3 weeks and evaluated for overall plant height, above ground biomass, below ground biomass, and total biomass in response to various filtrate applications. Impacts on germination were studied by quantifying germination time and of corn seeds in response to various amounts of condensed distillers solubles (CDS) and swine HTC filtrates.


Inhibitory effects on corn seed germination and seedling growth were dependent on HTC filtrate type and application amount, where at dilutions greater than 1:2 (filtrate : total volume) corn germination was not inhibited and swine based filtrate extending the seed germination delay (lag phase). Low filtrate applications were statistically equal to control responses.


These results suggest a potential opportunity for utilization of HTC filtrates as an agricultural liquid fertilizer, thereby recycling critical plant nutrients, once inhibitory compounds are treated.


Filtrate Hydrochar Plant growth Seed germination 



Hydrothermal carbonization




Mean germination time


Compliance with ethical standards


The authors would like to acknowledge the grants received from the Institute on Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), University of Minnesota-Biotechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, Minnesota’s Agricultural Utilization Research Institute and the Minnesota Corn Growers for partial funding of this research.

Conflict of Interest

All of the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This research did not involve research on human subjects or animals.


The use of trade, firm, or corporation names is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Supplementary material

11104_2015_2577_MOESM1_ESM.docx (122 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 122 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgiy V. Vozhdayev
    • 1
  • Kurt A. Spokas
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Joseph S. Molde
    • 1
  • Steven M. Heilmann
    • 1
  • Brandon M. Wood
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kenneth J. Valentas
    • 1
  1. 1.BioTechnology InstituteUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service, Soil and Water Management Research UnitSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Department of Soil, Water, and ClimateUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  4. 4.University of California Berkeley, College of Engineering - Applied Science and TechnologyBerkeleyUSA

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