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  • Author or Editor: M. Seth Balance x
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Growers have been searching for alternative horticultural growing media components because of their desire to use sustainable resources. Biochar is a carbon-based material that has been evaluated for use as an alternative aggregate in peat-based soilless substrates. Additionally, silicon (Si) has been examined as a beneficial element to promote plant growth and plant quality in a variety of crops. However, there has been limited research regarding the interaction of biochar as an aggregate and Si in soilless substrates. This study aimed to determine the impact of Si and biochar on plant growth and nutrient uptake for greenhouse-cultivated hemp (Cannabis sativa L.). Hemp plants were grown in one of 12 different substrate blends: with two rates of calcium silicate (CaSiO3), two aggregate types of biochar (medium or coarse) or perlite, and aggregate percentages of 85% peat + 15% aggregate and 70% peat + 30% aggregate. The cannabinoid concentration, plant height, diameter, or total plant biomass were similar across all substrate blends after 12 weeks of growth. Additionally, the use of CaSiO3 as a Si substrate amendment increased Si foliar concentrations, and the addition of biochar to peat-based mixes did not limit the Si availability for plant uptake. However, Si substrate amendments did not impact plant height, diameter, or total plant biomass. This suggests that the biochar tested during this study is suitable in peat-based substrates for C. sativa ‘BaOx’ production at rates up to 30% (by volume) in peat-based substrates with CaSiO3 amendments.

Open Access