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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #405875

Research Project: Management of Aflatoxin and Other Mycotoxins in Row Crops such as Maize, Peanut, and Soybean

Location: Biological Control of Pests Research

Title: Use of a biochar-based formulation for coating corn (Zea mays) seeds

item ACCINELLI, CESARE - University Of Bologna
item Abbas, Hamed
item MORENA, CHIARA - University Of Bologna
item BRUNO, VERONICA - University Of Bologna
item KHAMBHATI, VIVEK - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item PAULK, RYAN - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item LITTLE, NATHAN - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item BELLALOUI, NACER - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item FORBES, WALKER - University Of Tennessee
item SHIER, THOMAS - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Cogent Food & Agriculture
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/12/2023
Publication Date: 11/21/2023
Citation: Accinelli, C., Abbas, H.K., Morena, C., Bruno, V., Khambhati, V.H., Paulk, R.T., Little, N.S., Bellaloui, N., Forbes, W., Shier, T.W. 2023. Use of a biochar-based formulation for coating corn (Zea mays) seeds . Journal of Crop Improvement.

Interpretive Summary: Mycotoxins are common crop contaminants. Aflatoxin, produced by Aspergillus flavus, is the primary determinant of crop quality and a leading cause of economic loss in corn production. Biochar is reported to increase crop performance, encourage growth, increase seedling vigor, and prevent fungi from infecting seedling roots. This study investigated the role of biochar as a seed coating under laboratory and field conditions. In this study, it was demonstrated that biochar seed coatings reduced germination time, did not negatively affect yield, and did not promote A. flavus growth in field soil. This publication creates a better understanding of the positive effects of biochar as a seed coating that can be used to influence future research and improve seed treatment technology.

Technical Abstract: The series of experiments summarized here were conducted to evaluate the benefits of using biochar for coating corn seeds. Seed coated with a slurry containing bio-based ingredients and biochar were tested for germination and vigor, and for their potential to being infected by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, using a novel single seed incubator specifically designed for these purposes. Biochar-treated seeds were also planted for two years in experimental fields in the Mississippi Delta to evaluate their effect on corn yield and aflatoxin contamination of kernels. Experiments were conducted with two types of commercial biochar; one was obtained from hardwood residues and the other from coconut shells. Application of biochar seed coating did not affect seed germination and vigor. However, treated seeds showed increased wettability and a more rapid water uptake. This resulted in a 8.5 % shortening of germination time. Microbiological analysis showed that biochar was not conducive to the growth of A. flavus. This was also confirmed by analyzing soil samples that were collected from experimental fields located in the Mississippi Delta. Most importantly, although aflatoxin contamination was different in the two experimental years, aflatoxin contamination of corn kernels was not affected by biochar-based formulations.