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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #319037

Research Project: Evaluation of the Chemical and Physical Properties of Low-Value Agricultural Crops and Products to Enhance Their Use and Value

Location: Functional Foods Research

Title: Addition of biochar to simulated golf greens promotes creeping bentgrass growth

item Vaughn, Steven
item DINELLI, F - North Shore Country Club
item Tisserat, Brent
item JOSHEE, NORMAL - Fort Valley State University
item Vaughan, Martha
item Peterson, Steven - Steve

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/18/2015
Publication Date: 10/22/2015
Citation: Vaughn, S.F., Dinelli, F.D., Tisserat, B., Joshee, N., Vaughan, M.M., Peterson, S.C. 2015. Addition of biochar to simulated golf greens promotes creeping bentgrass growth [abstract]. Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Organic amendments such as peat moss and various composts are typically added to sand-based root zones such as golf greens to increase water and nutrient retention. However, these attributes are generally lost as these amendments decompose in a few years. Biochar is a high carbon, extremely porous coproduct from the pyrolysis of biomass. Due of this high porosity, biochar has excellent water and nutrient retention. Additionally, unlike other organic amendments, biochar is extremely resistant to microbial decomposition, allowing it to remain in the root zone for many years. The objective of this research was to determine if incorporating biochar into sand-based root zones increased creeping bentgrass growth. Two biochars were prepared using a top-lit updraft design pyrolytic stove from stems of Princess-tree [PT; Paulownia tomentosa (Thund.) Steud.] and Frost grape (FG; Vitis riparia L.). A third biochar was purchased from a commercial producer (EG; Evolution Group, Alton, IL, USA). Pure calcareous sand (control) or mixtures of the three biochars and sand at 1, 5 and 10% volume biochar/total volume were prepared. Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L. 'Pure Distinction') plant heights, root lengths, and fresh and dry weights were evaluated in mixtures grown hydroponically in polyvinyl chloride tubes (112 mm outside diameter, 99 mm inside diameter) filled 30 cm deep with 1 cm diameter pea gravel, over which 30 cm of either pure sand or sand/biochar mixtures were added to mimic a United States Golf Association root zone. Five weeks after seeding plants grown in 5% FG biochar had significantly greater fresh and dry weights, shoot heights and root lengths than the 100% sand control. Shoot heights were also higher than the control in the 5% EG and 10% PT treatments. In all the biochar treatments except for 1% EG, root lengths were significantly greater, with the roots of the 10% FG treatment approximately three times the length of the control. Based on these results it appears that the addition of certain biochars would improve water retention and increase overall plant growth in sand-based root zones.