Biochar for sand-based root-zone modification

Presented by Christians actually June 2013

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Sand-based turfgrass root zones have limited nutrient retention and water-holding capacity. Peat moss often is used to offset these deficiencies, but peat moss decomposes. The objective of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of biochar as a sand-based root zone amendment. Water retention, water infiltration, bentgrass rooting depth, and nutrient evaluation experiments were conducted on six sand and biochar root zone mixtures. At field capacity, sand-based media containing 25% biochar retained 260 and 370% more water compared to media containing 5% biochar and a pure sand control, respectively. Saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) of the root zones decreased as biochar concentrations increased. The rooting depth of bentgrass was reduced up to 46% at biochar concentrations greater than 10%. Leachate electrical conductivity and dissolved total organic carbon increased as biochar concentrations increased. Nitrogen leaching was reduced as biochar concentrations increased. According to the results, biochar may improve water storage, reduce overall water use, and decrease nitrogen fertilizer applications in sand-based turfgrass ecosystems.