The use of biochar in the soil has been around for many years, but scientists have now proved that its combination with other substances like urea and poultry manure can be an economic and convenient way to improve the pH of the soil, level of microbes in the soil, thereby improving the overall soil quality.
Soil pH is an important factor that influences bacteria growth in soil, its nutrient leaching, availability of nutrients to the plant, soil structure, and levels of toxic elements in the soil. This effect on the nutrient and chemical properties of soil is vital to the growth of the plant and its productivity. Therefore, the agricultural industry has been trying to control the pH and microbial status of the soil. The application of biochar can raise the pH and makes the soil alkaline by reduces Nitrous oxide emission and enriches the soil. This elevated biological nitrogen fixation is good for improving fungal colonization.
The fortification of biochar with poultry manure and urea was studied by researchers at Teaching and Research Farm of the University of Calabar. Integrated Biochar had shown better results when studied on a red amaranth plant. The study was carried out in Nigeria and the experimental soil was classified as soil according tothe USDA system of classification, that is soil was loamy and strongly acidic, with low organic carbon, nitrogen, and potassium. Different combinations of biochar were studied on the growth of Amaranthus and its soil quality and microbial levels by soil microbial analysis.
The use of alkaline Biochar (pH 7.8) makes the soil basic, and recovers its organic carbon levels, the biggest advantage of biochar is that it’s high carbon to nitrogen ratio lets it decompose gradually. Whereas this study suggests that poultry manure fortified biochar is moreover rich in calcium and magnesium, it displaces the hydrogen thus preventing acidity. Researchers have studied different combinations of biochar but the one with poultry manure yielded the highest microbial diversity and counts.
An interesting finding was that the application of high quantities of biochar will ironically cause low microbial activity. Because of its recalcitrant nature. The diversity of bacterial and fungal species was observed for different treatment combinations, depending upon the stage of decomposition, treatment materials, availability of substrate for microorganisms. Poultry manure showed the highest levels of bacteria and fungi.
The findings of this study will help develop the ideal combination of supplemented biochar for customized use, however, the combination of poultry manure is best as it shows better pH control and high nutrient supplementation (calcium and magnesium) thereby forming a conducive environment for the microorganisms to thrive. In short, the use of only biochar should be limited and its use in combination should be done to enrich the soil and help with its microbial population.
Biochar, poultry manure, urea, soil pH, climate change, nitrous oxide emission, fertilizer, soil microbial, integrated biochar.