Biochar phosphorus concentration dictates mycorrhizal colonisation, plant growth and soil phosphorus cycling.

Research paper by Zakaria M ZM Solaiman, Lynette K LK Abbott, Daniel V DV Murphy

Indexed on: 21 May '19Published on: 27 Mar '19Published in: Scientific Reports


We aimed to determine the relationship between biochar properties and colonisation of roots by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in agricultural soil. We used a range of biochars that differed in pH, water holding capacity, C, N and P concentrations to investigate interactions between biochar and AM fungi. A glasshouse experiment was conducted with subterranean clover and wheat, amended separately with 34 sources of biochar (applied at 1% w/w), to investigate potential responses in a phosphorus (P) deficient agricultural soil. Plant growth responses to biochar ranged from positive to negative and were dependent on biochar P concentration, available soil P and AM root colonisation. The higher the nutrient P concentration in biochar, the lower was AM colonisation. Growth responses of wheat and clover to the application of various biochars were mostly positive, and their growth was correlated, but biochar contributions to soil fertility varied with biochar properties. When nutrient concentrations are higher in biochars, especially for P and N, plants can gain access to nutrients via the plant roots and mycorrhizal hyphae. Thus biochar amendments can increase both plant nutrient uptake and crop production in nutrient deficient soil.