Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences


Longer, David E

Committee Member/Reader

Kristofor R. Brye

Committee Member/Second Reader

Scott, Thad J.

Committee Member/Third Reader

Oosterhuis, Derrick M


Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is known for being sensitive to cool, wet soils, especially in the early stages of growth. Amendments such as soil fertilizers and manures added to soil can aid cotton seedlings in development and nutrient uptake. However, soil fertilizers and manures can be costly and detrimental to the environment, and alternatives such as the addition of biochar have been considered. Biochar is a high-carbon, nutrient-rich charcoal produced from organic matter that has gone through pyrolysis. Biochar has been shown to improve plant yield, soil microbial response, soil structure, soil cation-exchange capacity, and water-use efficiency, however research on biochar has not had consistent results and requires further study. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of biochar on early-season cotton growth. The objective of this study was to determine whether biochar aids nutrient uptake and seedling development. 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-1) and no biochar, and two biochar treatments (1500 or 3000 kg ha-1) each with and without nitrogen fertilizer (0 or 56 kg N ha-1). Plants were grown for eight weeks then harvested to collect plant height, plant fresh weight, plant dry weight, and leaf area to determine which treatment resulted in largest growth and development. Analysis of the data showed that the greatest level of biochar with additional fertilizer provided the statistically best growth response compared to the control group in plant height, fresh weight dry weight, and leaf area at 27.52 cm, 14.7 g, 1.87 g, and 419.48 cm2, which is an increase of 38%, 142%, 114%, and 22% from the control with fertilizer, respectively. These results implicate biochar does aid in early season cotton growth, and that biochar applied at 3000 kg ha-1 provides better growth conditions than 1500 kg ha-1.