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Use of carbonized organic material for production of greenhouse crops Nick Savidov Crop Diversification Centre South, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

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Presentation on theme: "Use of carbonized organic material for production of greenhouse crops Nick Savidov Crop Diversification Centre South, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development."— Presentation transcript:

1 Use of carbonized organic material for production of greenhouse crops Nick Savidov Crop Diversification Centre South, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development For Canadian Biochar Initiative Friday, December 12, 2008 Montreal, Quebec

2  Introduction  Objectives of Biochar study at CDCS, Brooks  Results of preliminary studies  Long English cucumber production on Biochar-based media  Use of Biochar as a transplant media for basil production  Conclusions TOPICS

3 Substrates have a major impact on growth of greenhouse and nursery plants and often determine profitability of the operations

4 Substrates are divided into three groups: mineral organic synthetic

5 Examples of mineral substrates: rockwool pumice stone perlite expanded clay

6 Most common examples of organic substrates: peat coconut coir sawdust rice husk bark

7 Most common synthetic substrate: Polyurethane foam

8 Biochar is an example of a new kind of greenhouse substrate

9 Existing greenhouse substrates widely differ in their properties

10 Properties of greenhouse substrates Physical Chemical Physico-chemical Biological

11 Physical properties of greenhouse substrates Water retention capacity Total porosity Air space Stability Bulk density Saturation and de-saturation characteristics Particle size distribution

12 Chemical properties of greenhouse substrates Water soluble elements Buffered elements Nitrogen fixation

13 Physico-chemical properties of greenhouse substrates Ion Exchange Capacity

14 Biological properties of greenhouse substrates Plant reaction Microorganisms reaction Pest reaction

15 Physical properties of some greenhouse substrates SubstrateAir content, % volume Available water, % Peat2818 Rockwool2571 Polyurethane foam 846

16 Why Biochar?

17 Advantages of greenhouse media based on carbonized organic material Higher stability Less bulk density Better physical characteristics, such as porosity and water retention capacity

18 Ability to absorb phytotoxic compounds such as phenols. Buffering capacity Potential algicidal properties Not easily available for bacteria as a carbon source, which decreases potential nitrogen fixation Can be produced from cheap, locally available sources, agricultural waste, such as straw Advantages of greenhouse media based on carbonized organic material

19 Key objectives of Biochar study at CDCS, Brooks basil, long English cucumbers, tomatoes bell peppers Evaluate the performance of Biochar produced from various materials as a hydroponic growth media for greenhouse crops including:

20 Key objectives of Biochar study at CDCS, Brooks Measure the physical, chemical, and biological properties of carbonized growth media as a hydroponic growth media and compare these properties to those of commercial alternatives including sawdust and coconut coir

21 Key objectives of Biochar study at CDCS, Brooks Characterize the “stability” (number of successive crops capable of being grown on the same media) of Biochar- based media as compared to commercial growth media.

22 Key objectives of Biochar study at CDCS, Brooks Conduct a ‘techno-economic’ and an ‘environmental’ assessment of carbonized growth media in the greenhouse industry in Alberta. Conduct a food safety study on greenhouse produce grown on media produced from carbonized organic material

23 Effect of substrate on respiration rate after 4 days of incubation

24 Preliminary experiments with long English cucumbers

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26 Absence of phytotoxic effect of carbonized media

27 Carbonized sawdust Raw sawdust

28 Effect of carbonized medium on algae growth Carbonized sawdust Raw sawdust

29 Effect of carbonized substrate on cucumber yield in comparison with sawdust and coir

30 2 nd experiment with long English cucumbers

31 Randomized block design of cucumber trial Row Row Row Row Row Row Row Row Row SAWDUST standard irrigation SAWDUST less frequent irrigation COIR standard irrigation COIR less frequent irrigation Carbonized SAWDUST standard irrigation Carbonized SAWDUST less frequent irrigation Carbonized COIR standard irrigation Carbonized COIR less frequent irrigation Carbonized straw standard irrigation Carbonized straw less frequent irrigation

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35 #TreatmentKG.SEWORTHSE 1sawdust standard irrigation sawdust less frequent irrigation coconut coir standard irrigation coconut coir less frequent irrigation carbonized sawdust standard irrigation carbonized sawdust less frequent irrigation carbonized coconut coir standard irrigation carbonized coconut coir less frequent irrigation carbonized straw standard irrigation carbonized straw less frequent irrigation Effect of carbonized substrates on productivity of greenhouse cucumbers

36 Effect of carbonized substrates on yield of greenhouse cucumbers, kg/plant

37 Effect of carbonized substrates on yield of greenhouse cucumbers, $/plant

38 Effect of carbonized transplant media on basil production in aquaponics system

39 Aquaponics facility at CDCS, Brooks

40 GeoTube Sump Filter tanks Clarifier Swirl Separator s P1 2 nd generation aquaponics facility with Biofloc system Fish tanks Plant Tray AB1 AB2 Filters Clean water Aeration Cleaning Circuit Solids Removal Nutrient Rich Water P2 P3

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44 Effect of carbonized media on basil productivity in aquaponics

45 Conclusions Preliminary data suggest no phytotoxic effect of carbonization on greenhouse crops The same or higher yields can be achieved using biochar-based media in greenhouse crops production Carbonization dramatically improve stability of organic substrate Biochar-based media have a high potential when used in highly biologically active environment, such as aquaponics


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