Poultry Litter, Biochar, and Fertilizer Effect on Corn Yield, Nutrient Uptake, N2O and CO2 Emissions
Biochar holds promise as a soil amendment with potential to sequester carbon, improve soil fertility, adsorb organic pollutants, stimulate soil microbial activities, and improve crop yield. We used a hardwood biochar to assess its impact on corn (Zea mays) grain, biomass yields and greenhouse gas emission in central Kentucky, USA. Six treatments included as follows: control (C) with no amendment applied; poultry litter (PL); biochar (B); biochar + poultry litter (B + PL); fertilizers N-P-K (F);
... tilizers N-P-K (F); and biochar + fertilizers (B + F). Biochar was applied only once to plots in 2010 followed by rototilling all plots. Only PL and fertilizer were applied annually. When applied alone, biochar did not significantly increase dry matter, grain yield, and N-P-K uptake. There was also no significant difference between the combined treatments when compared with PL or F applications alone. We observed a slight increasing trend in corn grain yield in the following 2 years compared to the first year from biochar treatment. Poultry litter treatment produced significantly greater N2O and CO2 emissions, but emissions were lower from the B+PL treatment. We conclude that this biochar did not improve corn productivity in the short term but has potential to increase yield in the long term and may have some benefit when combined with PL or F in reducing N2O and CO2 emissions.