Can Biochar Come to the Rescue of Coastal Barren Species? A Controlled Study Reports on the Impact of Biochar Amendment on Their Survival

Jeff Licht, Hugh McLaughlin, Chris Burns, Frank Shields

Abstract


Indigenous species in coastal barren communities are subject to anthropogenic and environmental pressures; some species are in decline, and there is uncertainty about their long-term survival. The authors added supplemental soil carbon in the form of red oak biochar to calcined clay (1:9) to determine the effect of this treatment on survival of legume (Lupinus perennis and Baptisia tinctoria) and non-legume (Vaccinium angustifolium and Quercus ilicifolia) species during a period spanning two and a half seasons of unirrigated pot tests. Red oak biochar used in the experiment was produced from pyrolysis, the thermochemical devolitization and carbonization of the starting biomass. Biochar significantly affected the survival rates of all species (P=<.03). Biochar-treated non-legumes had higher survival rates (P=<.10) than similarly treated legumes. Future investigations of biochars, particularly those evolved from recycled lignocellulosic wastes, associated with survival, should focus on reversal of habitat loss.

Keywords


Species survival; Biochar amendment; Coastal barren communities; Legume; Bio-management

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