BS in Agricultural Science
Agricultural Education and Communication Department
Karen Vaughan, Robert Flores
In order to sustain the ever growing global population, agriculture needs to not only increase yields but to increase yields in a way that is sustainable and is either environmentally neutral or has a positive effect on the environment. Biochar offers a solution to this challenge with numerous environmental benefits, as well as agricultural benefits (Lehman and Joseph 2009). The agricultural benefits of biochar have been well documented in tropical climates, with the benefits of biochar for other climates, such as temperate climates and Mediterranean climates, relatively unknown (Blackwell et. al. 2009). To determine the effect of biochar on agricultural soil in the Mediterranean climate of California’s Central Coast, a greenhouse trial growing corn was set up to compare the effect of three different rates of biochar, .25, .5, and .75 tons/acre, to corn that was grown without a biochar amendment. The corn plants were allowed to grow for eight weeks before being harvested and tested to determine the following: dry weight (g), moisture (%), nitrogen (%), phosphorous (%), potassium (%), zinc (mg/kg), manganese (mg/kg), boron (mg/kg), calcium (%), magnesium (%), iron (mg/kg), copper (mg/kg), sulfur (%), aluminum (mg/kg), and molybdenum (mg/kg). The testing revealed that there was no significant difference for any of the metrics that were tested for any rate of biochar.