Evaluation of biochar as a sustainable aggregate in horticultural growing media for greenhouse production

P. Veazie, M.S. Ballance, K.Y. Jeong, B.E. Whipker
Several organic/inorganic materials have been used in the formulation of growing media. Traditionally, Sphagnum peat, coir, and aggregates, such as bark, perlite and vermiculite, are used. However, in recent years, alternative biomasses have been evaluated for use in growing media including biochar. Biochar is a carbon-based material. Regionally produced biochar materials have been evaluated previously by other researchers as horticultural substrate additives to promote microbiological and chemical characteristics for the rhizosphere environment improvement for plant roots. In North America, perlite is a major aggregate component to engineer horticultural substrates. Therefore, the biochar aggregate was evaluated by comparing the performance of peat-perlite mixes. Three species, French marigold, pepper, and tomato were grown in one of four different substrates with either perlite or wood biochar, and aggregate ratios of 15 or 30% by volume. Plant height and diameter were similar across all examined substrates for all species. This suggests that biochar with its lower environmental impact is a comparable substrate aggregate to perlite without any cultural practice adjustments such as irrigation and fertilization regime.
Veazie, P., Ballance, M.S., Jeong, K.Y. and Whipker, B.E. (2024). Evaluation of biochar as a sustainable aggregate in horticultural growing media for greenhouse production. Acta Hortic. 1389, 99-104
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2024.1389.11
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2024.1389.11
biochar, alternative aggregate, Sphagnum peat, perlite, growing media
English

Acta Horticulturae