Biochar in Carrot and Pepper Production

Biochar in Field  Carrots Grown Using Biochar

Recently, use of biochar to improve plant and soil health and to increase soil nutrient retention has been attracting interest from growers and researchers alike. Biochar is also gaining interest for its ability to sequester carbon and drawing down atmospheric carbon. Our intention with this research is to investigate the possible use of biochar and its effect on soil properties and plant health in vegetable cropping systems, especially carrot and pepper cropping production. Fruit and vegetable growers in the North Central region have expressed interest in integrating sustainable soil building practices in their production systems to cut down on nutrient application rates and build soil organic matter. Most growers know or have heard about biochar and its potential soil benefits but are skeptical of its use due to its long lasting effect in the soil. The objectives of this study are to: 1) study the impact of biochar on soil fertility and nutrient status in- and below the root zone in two soil types (sandy vs. loamy soils, 2) document the effect of biochar on soil biological properties, crop growth and yield. Data will be collected on nutrient leaching, soil microbial population dynamics, and crop growth characteristics, and yield. We will monitor soil temperature and collect soil samples from the root zone and place lysimeters to collect soil leachate for nitrate analysis below the root zone.