A rapid-test for screening biochar effects on seed germination

<p>We developed a rapid-test to screen for effects of biochar on seed germination and soils. Crop seeds were placed in containers and covered with 15 g of soil with 1% biochar by weight. Two agricultural soils from South Carolina USA were used. Eighteen biochars were produced from six primary feedstocks [pine chips (PC), poultry litter (PL), swine solids (SS), switchgrass (SG); and two blends of PC and PL, 50% PC/50% PL (55), and 80% PC/20% PL (82)]. Each feedstock was pyrolyzed at 350, 500 and 700°C. There were few biochar effects on seed germination. Shoot dry weight was increased for carrot, cucumber, lettuce, oat, and tomato; primarily with biochars containing PL. Soil pH, electrical conductivity and extractable phosphorus primarily increased with PL, SS, 55, and 82 treatments for both soil types and across species. This method can be an early indicator of biochar effects on seed germination and soil health.</p>