Fertilizing behavior of extract of organomineral-activated biochar: low-dose foliar application for promoting lettuce growth

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Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture


Background: Fostering plant growth and improving agricultural yields by adding “macro”-sized biochar to soil has been extensively explored. However, the impact and mechanism of action of aqueous extracts of biochar applied as foliar fertilizer on plant growth and physiology is poorly understood, and was the objective of this study. Extracts were produced from biochars derived from pine wood:clay:sand (PCS-BC; 70:15:15) and wheat straw:bird manure (WB-BC; 50:50) and tested at two dilutions each. The plant influence of the biochar extracts and dilutions were compared with chemical fertilizer made up to the same minor trace element compositions as the applied extracts and a control treatment consisting of only deionized water. Results: The WB-BC extract was more alkaline than the PCS-BC extract and exhibited higher electrical conductivity values. Similar to the biochars from which they were derived, the WB-BC extract had higher concentrations of dissolved mineral elements and organic matter than the PCS-BC extract. Despite major differences in chemical composition between the PCS-BC and WB-BC extracts, there was virtually no difference in plant performance between them at any chosen dilution. Foliar application of PCS25, WB50, and WB100 led to a significant increase in the plant fresh biomass in comparison to their corresponding chemical fertilizer and to deionized water. Plant growth parameters including number of leaves and chlorophyll contents in plants treated with biochar extract foliar sprays were significantly higher than in all the other treatments. Electron microscopy and spectroscopy studies showed the deposition of macro- and nanoscale organomineral particles and agglomerates on leaf surfaces of the examined PCS25-treated plant. Detailed study suggests that carbon nanomaterials and TiO2 or Si-rich nanoscale organomineral complexes or aluminosilicate compounds from biochar extract were main contributors to increased plant growth and improved plant performance. Conclusion: These results suggest that biochar extracts have the potential to be used as nanofertilizer foliar sprays for enhancing plant growth and yield. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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University of New South Wales



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