Effects of Biochar and Composts on Substrates Properties and Container-Grown Basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Plants
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Biochar (BC) has the potential to be used as container substrates. However, effects of BC on container-grown plants depend on various factors including container substrate components mixed with BC, BC percentage and plant type. The purpose of this project is to test the potential of BC and composts mixes to be used as replacements for the commercial container substrates. In the first experiment, mixes of 20%, 40%, 60% or 80% (by vol.) BC with 5%, 10%, 15% or 20% (by vol.) vermicompost (VC) were evaluated as container substrate on basil (Ocimum basilicum) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plant growth compared to the commercial peat-based substrate (control). The commercial substrate made up the remaining volume when the BC and VC did not add up to 100%. Growth index (GI) and the total dry weight (DW) of basil and tomato in BC:VC mixes were similar to or higher than the control at 9 weeks after transplanting (WAT). Therefore, the BC (20%, 40%, 60% or 80%, by vol.) and VC (5%, 10%, 15% or 20%, by vol.) mixes could be used as the alternative container substrates. Because of the high price of VC, the lowest VC percentage (5%) from the first experiment was selected for the second experiment. Chicken manure compost (CM) has similar fine texture to VC and is cheaper than VC. In the second experiment, mixes with either CM or VC (5%, by vol.) and BC (60%, 70%, 80% or 90%, by vol.) with the rest being the commercial substrate were evaluated to grow tomato and basil and compared to the commercial substrate. At 8 WAT, the GI, shoot DW and fresh weight (FW), and root and total DW of basil in BC-compost mixes (except 80BC:5CM, 90BC:5VC and 90BC:5CM) were similar to the control, respectively. The GI, stem, root, total DW, and red and total fruit FW and DW of tomato plants in BC-compost mixes (except 90BC:5CM) were similar to or higher than the control. Therefore, 60% and 70% BC mixed with as low as 5% (by vol.) CM and VC can be used to grow basil and tomato plants in containers.
Huang, Lan (2018). Effects of Biochar and Composts on Substrates Properties and Container-Grown Basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Plants. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from