AS  Vol.6 No.8 , August 2015
Effect of Rice Straw Biochar on Soil Quality and the Early Growth and Biomass Yield of Two Rice Varieties
Abstract: Sustainable rice production in Sierra Leone faces serious constraints due to soil acidity, low cation exchange capacity, low nutrient contents accelerated mineralization of soil organic matter and soil loss by erosion (particularly on the uplands). One possible approach to addressing the soil constraints to rice production both on uplands and lowlands of Sierra Leone is the recycling of rice residues through biochar production and application to soils. A pot experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of application of biochar from rice residues on (i) soil physicochemical properties and (ii) the early growth characteristics of two rice varieties, NERICA L19 and ROK3. The experiment was arranged in a completely randomized design (CRD) with two biochar levels (0 and 15 g/kg soil) and two rice varieties in three replications. For the biochar treated soils (+biochar), 75 g rice straw biochar was applied to 5 kg air-dry soil (15 kg biochar/kg soil), mixed thoroughly and placed into perforated black polythene bags. Seeds of two rice varieties, NERICA L19 and ROK3 were planted on the treated and untreated soils for eight weeks. Application of biochar improved available phosphorus, exchangeable cations and cation exchange capacity in biochar treated soils compared to the control soil without biochar. Plant height, tiller number, and dry biomass weight of both rice varieties grown in soils amended with rice straw biochar were significantly higher than those on untreated soils. The most remarkable increase in plant growth characteristics as a result of biochar addition to soil was reflected in the biomass yield and tiller numbers. Dry shoot biomass for ROK3 rice variety varied significantly from a mean of 3.5 g (control) to 26.2 g (+biochar) while tiller numbers significantly varied from 10 (control) to 29.6 (+biochar). Similarly, for NERICA L19 rice variety, dry shoot biomass increased significantly from 4.5 g (control) to 22.7 g (+biochar) while tiller numbers increased significantly from a mean of 12.3 (control) to 30 (+biochar). Thus converting rice residues to biochar and applying to soil holds promise for improving rice production in Sierra Leone.
Cite this paper: Kamara, A. , Sorie Kamara, H. and Saimah Kamara, M. (2015) Effect of Rice Straw Biochar on Soil Quality and the Early Growth and Biomass Yield of Two Rice Varieties. Agricultural Sciences, 6, 798-806. doi: 10.4236/as.2015.68077.

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