The Negative Effects of High Rates of Biochar on Violas Can Be Counteracted with Fertilizer

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Abstract

Increasing costs and environmental issues regarding excessive use of peat moss is impacting the horticultural industry. Biochar is a valuable substrate additive that has the potential to reduce the use of peatmoss in greenhouse production. However, its varying effects on ornamentals requires that individual species and cultivars of crops must be evaluated to determine the threshold for benefits. Viola cornuta is a high value ornamental crop; however, information on how different rates of biochar rates affect productivity and physiology of Viola cultivars in container production is not known. To determine if biochar rates could increase the productivity of Viola, we mixed a peat-based substrate with 10, 25, and 50% (w:w) hardwood biochar in two studies on four cultivars. Without fertilizers, 10 and 25% biochar improved plant biomass, growth, root length, and flowering, but 50% biochar was found to have negative effects on plant growth and flowering. Cultivars varied in their response to biochar rates. When fertilizer was applied in the second experiment, biochar rates did not impact growth parameters or flowering. These results suggest that up to 25% biochar can be used in Viola production without detrimental impacts. However, 50% biochar can be used with the addition of fertilizer without negatively affecting plant growth. Biochar can have a short-term impact on the growth characteristics of Viola plants in container production, but fertilization and growing period of Viola may influence these effects. These results indicate that biochar could be the suitable replacement for peat moss, with up to 50% biochar rate in Viola production reducing the environmental and economic burden for peat moss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number491
JournalPlants
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

Keywords

  • Biochar
  • Containers
  • Ornamental
  • Physiology
  • Production
  • Viola

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