Effect of digestate and biochar amendments on Chinese melon

Despite the recent interest in biochar and digestate as soil amendments for improving soil quality and increasing crop production, there is inadequate knowledge of the effect of the combination of biochar and digestate, particularly under saline irrigation conditions.

A pot experiment with Chinese melon was conducted in a greenhouse, biochar (5%) and digestate (500 mL/pot) were used with and without the recommended mineral NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) fertilizer dose (120-150-150 Kg ha−1). The plants were irrigated with tap water (SL0) and 2 dS/m (SL1) NaCl solution. The growth, photosynthesis rate, water use efficiency (WUE) and yield of Chinese melon were affected positively when biochar was combined with digestate amendment, particularly under saline irrigation water with and without mineral NPK fertilizer.

The maximum yield under normal water was obtained by digestate (SL0: 218.87 t ha−1) and biochar amendment combined with digestate (SL1: 118.8 t ha−1) under saline water. The maximum WUE values were noticed with the biochar and digestate combination under all water treatments (SL0: 32.2 t ha−1 mm−1 and SL1: 19.6 t ha−1 mm−1). It was concluded that digestate alone was more effective than the use of biochar, particularly with normal water.

The combination of biochar with digestate had a significant effect on the Chinese melon growth, photosynthesis rate, water use efficiency and yield under saline irrigation, and it can be used as an alternative fertilizer for mineral NPK fertilizer.

Access the full study at Agronomy.

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