Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Longer, David E

Reader

Scott, Thad J.

Second Reader

Roberts, Trenton L

Third Reader

Wood, Lisa S

Abstract

Many row-crop fields today have declined in soil fertility due to poor management practices and overuse of pesticides. Under these conditions, plant nutrient uptake can be sub-optimal. There are several soil amendments that can be used to improve soil quality and plant growth such as traditional fertilizers and manure applications. This study focused on the addition of biochar to the soil and the use of structured water to enhance plant growth. Biochar is a nutrient rich product that is produced by pyrolysis of organic feedstocks and contains high rates of carbon. Previous studies which focused on biochar have shown an increase in plant yield, nutrient availability in the soil, and soil water holding capacity. Structured water is the liquid crystalline state of water which has unique characteristics due to the ordering of the hydrogen bonds in the water molecules. Numerous claims have been made in the natural and organic health literature about the benefits of structured water in human and animal health, but little has been reported in the scientific literature concerning plant growth response. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of biochar and structured water on the growth and nutrient content of radishes (Raphahus sativa (L.)). This study was conducted in October 2013 in the Rosen Alternative Pest Control Greenhouse at the University of Arkansas. A complete randomized design was used consisting of a total of six treatments including: equivalent rates of 0, 5,000, and 10,000 kg ha-1 of biochar, each watered with either tap water or structured water. The plants grew for 22 days in the greenhouse and were then harvested and analyzed for leaf area, total fresh weight, root fresh weight, and mineral content using a Brix meter. Data showed that the water type had the most significant response. Tap water and biochar used together had a significant and positive interaction. Radishes grown in soil containing biochar and watered with tap water resulted in larger leaf area, total fresh weight, root fresh weight, and mineral contents as the rate of biochar increased. Biochar alone had a negative effect on root fresh weight. Radish growth showed a negative response to structured water in almost every circumstance. This study concluded that tap water and 0 kg ha-1 of biochar produced the largest radish yield overall.

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