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Effect of rubber wood biochar on nutrition and growth of nursery plants of Hevea brasiliensis established in an Ultisol

Randombage Saman Dharmakeerthi*, Jayalath Arachchige Sarath Chandrasiri and Vishani Udayanga Edirimanne

Author Affiliations

Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Dartonfield, Agalawatta, 12200, Sri Lanka

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SpringerPlus 2012, 1:84  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-84

Published: 29 December 2012

Abstract

Application of biochar alters availability of nutrients and acidic cations in soils which in turn could affect growth of plant to different degrees. Effect of rubber wood biochar amendment on the growth and nutritional status of Hevea nursery plants was determined in this study. Biochar were applied at 1% and 2% (w/w) with and without the recommended rates of N and Mg liquid fertilizers (LF). Two control treatments with 0% biochar but with and without recommended levels of all N, P, K, and Mg LF were also included. Application of biochar alone has a significant positive effect on above ground dry matter accumulation of the rootstock seedling (81% over the 0% biochar + no LF control) while no effect on the scion growth. Growth of plants in LF added treatments were much higher. Combining 2% biochar with N and Mg significantly increased the above ground dry matter accumulation over N-P-K-Mg only treatment in both rootstock seedling (29%) and the scion (61%). Biochar only application did not affect the N and P and decreased K and Ca concentrations in leaves. When combined with N and Mg fertilizers however, biochar significantly increased total N, P, Mg and Ca uptake. Biochar only application (2%) significantly decreased the leaf Mn concentrations in the seedling probably due to decrease in Mn availability as a result of increase in soil pH. The increase in soil pH due to biochar addition decreased with time close to original values in soils that received LF, possibly due to sulfate of ammonia. We concluded that application of rubber wood biochar (upto 2% w/w) could improve the growth of Hevea plants with the use of only N and Mg fertilizers under nursery conditions tested in this experiment.

Keywords:
Biochar; Hevea brasiliensis; Nutrition; Plant growth; Rubber wood; Ultisol