Location: Crop Production Systems ResearchTitle: Effect of sugarcane biochar on rainfed cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) growth, lint yield and quality in the humid Mississippi Delta
|PINNAMANENI, SRINIVASA - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
|BOONE, STEPHANIE - University Of Arizona
Submitted to: Nature Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/28/2023
Publication Date: 7/6/2023
Citation: Pinnamaneni, S.R., Lima, I.M., Boone, S.A., Anapalli, S.S., Reddy, K.N. 2023. Effect of sugarcane biochar on rainfed cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) growth, lint yield and quality in the humid Mississippi Delta. Nature Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-37820-8.
Interpretive Summary: Utilization of plant residues as a soil amendment is widely believed as a safe and impactful conservation agricultural practice to enhance crop productivity and soil health. Biochar is one such plant residue derived product considered to improve soil water holding capacity. However, there are no studies on the impact of biochar on cotton productivity in humid Mississippi Delta. To address this, scientists at the USDA-ARS, Crop Production Systems Research Unit and Sustainable Water Management Research Unit, Stoneville, MS, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, LA, and University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ conducted a 3-yr. field study by applying sugarcane bagasse derived biochar at different rates in cotton in the summer during 2019-2021. The results of the study indicated that no significant impact on lint yield and seed yield for the first two years, but in the third year, a significant increase in lint yield by 13 and 21.7% was recorded at 20 and 40 t ha-1 biochar levels, respectively. Many of the lint quality parameters were unaffected. The improved cotton lint and seed yields with biochar did not produce increased net returns due to the increased production costs as a result producers could be reluctant to adopt this technology.
Technical Abstract: Optimizing soil health through soil amendments is a promising strategy for enhanced rainwater use efficiency for stabilizing crop production. Biochar, obtained by torrefaction of sugarcane bagasse, a byproduct from sugar mills, has a high potential for its use as a soil amendment but needs further field trials for its adoption in farming systems. A field study was conducted during 2019-2021 at Stoneville, Mississippi, to assess rainfed cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production under four biochar levels (0, 10, 20, and 40 t ha-1) on Dundee silt loam soil. The effects of biochar on rainfed cotton phenology, leaf area index (LAI), lint yield, and lint quality were examined. Biochar levels had no significant impact on lint yield and seed yield for the first two years, but in the third year, a significant increase in lint yield by 13 and 21.7% was recorded at 20 and 40 t ha-1 biochar levels, respectively. In third year, lint yields were 1523, 1586, 1721, and 1854 kg ha-1 at 0, 10, 20 and 40 t ha-1 biochar levels, respectively. Similarly, cotton seed yield increased by 10.8% and 13.4% in 20 and 40 t ha-1 biochar compared to no biochar. This study demonstrated that successive biochar applications at 20 or 40 t ha-1 can enhance cotton lint and seed yields under rainfed conditions. These improved cotton lint and seed yields with biochar did not produce increased net returns due to the increased production costs. Many of the lint quality parameters were unaffected except for micronaire, fiber strength and fiber length. However, potential benefits of longer-term continuous use of biochar in cotton production merits further investigation. Additionally, biochar application is presumably more relevant when accrued carbon credits through carbon sequestration outweigh the increased production costs due to biochar application.