University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


Cotton is known for being sensitive to cool, wet soils, especially in the early stages of growth. Amendments to soil can aid cotton seedlings in development and nutrient uptake. However, soil amendments can be costly and detrimental to the environment, and alternatives such as the addition of biochar have been considered. Biochar is produced from biomass that has gone through pyrolysis and has been shown to improve plant yield, microbial response, soil structure, soil cation–exchange capacity, and water use efficiency. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of biochar on early season cotton growth. The aim of this study was to determine whether biochar aids nutrient uptake and seedling development during the seedling’s life cycle. The study was established in October 2013 in the greenhouse at the University of Arkansas using a randomized complete block design with three replications. Treatments included a control with no fertilizer or biochar, a control with fertilizer (56 kg N/ ha) and no biochar, and two fertilizer treatments (0 or 56 kg N/ ha) each with 1500 or 3000 kg/ha biochar. Plants were grown for eight weeks then harvested to collect plant height, plant fresh weight, plant dry weight, and leaf area. Data showed that the highest level of biochar with additional fertilizer provided the best growth response in plant height, fresh weight dry weight, and leaf area at 27.52 cm, 14.7g, 1.87 g, and 419.48 cm2 , respectively.