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International Journal of Agronomy
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3158207, 12 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3158207
Research Article

The Effects of Biochar and Its Combination with Compost on Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) Growth, Soil Properties, and Soil Microbial Activity and Abundance

1Dipartimento di Bioscienze e Territorio, Università degli Studi del Molise, 86090 Pesche, Italy
2Istituto di Biometeorologia-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IBIMET-CNR), 50145 Firenze, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Dalila Trupiano; ti.lominu@onaipurt.alilad

Received 16 December 2016; Revised 6 March 2017; Accepted 19 March 2017; Published 5 April 2017

Academic Editor: Ibrokhim Y. Abdurakhmonov

Copyright © 2017 Dalila Trupiano et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Impacts of biochar application in combination with organic fertilizer, such as compost, are not fully understood. In this study, we tested the effects of biochar amendment, compost addition, and their combination on lettuce plants grown in a soil poor in nutrients; soil microbiological, chemical, and physical characteristics were analyzed, together with plant growth and physiology. An initial screening was also done to evaluate the effect of biochar and compost toxicity, using cress plants and earthworms. Results showed that compost amendment had clear and positive effects on plant growth and yield and on soil chemical characteristics. However, we demonstrated that also the biochar alone stimulated lettuce leaves number and total biomass, improving soil total nitrogen and phosphorus contents, as well as total carbon, and enhancing related microbial communities. Nevertheless, combining biochar and compost, no positive synergic and summative effects were observed. Our results thus demonstrate that in a soil poor in nutrients the biochar alone could be effectively used to enhance soil fertility and plant growth and biomass yield. However, we can speculate that the combination of compost and biochar may enhance and sustain soil biophysical and chemical characteristics and improve crop productivity over time.