Effects of enriched biochars containing magnetic iron nanoparticles on mycorrhizal colonisation, plant growth, nutrient uptake and soil quality improvement
At present, there is little commercial sale of biochar, since farmers find they can not gain a return on their investment in this amendment in the first few years after its application, because of the high cost associated with large application rates. To overcome this constraint, development of artificially aged enriched biochar-mineral complexes (BMCs), having a higher mineral content, surface functionality, exchangeable cations, high concentration of magnetic iron (Fe) nanoparticles, and higher water-extractable organic compounds has been undertaken by a combined team of researchers and a commercial company. Two biochars produced under different pyrolysis conditions were activated with a phosphoric acid treatment. A mixture of clay, chicken litter, and minerals were added to the biochar, and then this composite was torrefied at either 180 or 220 ◦C. In this study a pot experiment was carried out in glasshouse conditions to determine the effects of four different BMCs, with different formulations applied at rates of 100 and 200 kg ha−1 , on the mycorrhizal colonisation, wheat growth and nutrient uptake, and soil quality improvement. It was found that the phosphorus (P) and nitrogen uptake in wheat shoots were significantly greater for a low application rate of BMCs (100 kg ha−1 ). The present formulation of BMC was effective in enhancing growth of wheat at low application rate (100 kg ha−1 ). The increase in growth appeared due to an increase in P uptake in the plants that could be partly attributed to an increase in mycorrhizal colonisation and partly due to the properties of the BMC.