Biochar Alters the Root Systems of Large Crabgrass

in HortScience

Soil incorporation of biochar appears to increase plant growth in some environments. However, the effect of biochar on root system architecture (RSA) or on weeds is not well understood. Our objective was to examine the effect of biochar on the growth and RSA of large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis L. Scop.), a common and problematic weed. Plants were grown in rhizoboxes filled with field soil ± either a low-nutrient biochar (LNB) or a high-nutrient biochar (HNB). Rhizoboxes were either filled uniformly with field soil ± biochar (solid) or with + biochar and − biochar-amended field soil so that each occupied half of the rhizobox (split). Large crabgrass biomass and RSA were affected by biochar type in the solid design rhizoboxes and large crabgrass roots proliferated in biochar-amended soil in the split rhizoboxes, regardless of biochar type. This study provides evidence that plant roots can detect and grow toward biochar and suggests that the addition of biochar to soils may increase the ability of large crabgrass to spread vegetatively.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author. E-mail: kgibson@purdue.edu.

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