Biochar From Sugarcane Bagasse and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi on Growth and Nutrient Status of Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) Seedlings Under Nursery Conditions

Nelly S. Aggangan1* and Joshua G. Jomao-as1,2

1National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,
University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031 Philippines
2Graduate School, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031 Philippines

*Corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Most soils in the Philippines are acidic and are low in nutrients to support vigorous plant growth. The effect of applying both biochar and mycorrhizal fungi on plants under acidic soil is not yet well established. This study aimed to determine the influence of biochar from sugarcane bagasse (BSB) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on the growth traits, mycorrhization, and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) uptakes of cacao seedlings under nursery conditions. The mycorrhizal soil inoculant contained 12 species belonging to the genera Glomus, Gigaspora, Acaulospora, and Entrophospora. These AMF were developed and commercially produced at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Laguna, Philippines. The experiment was conducted for 6 mo in a nursery following a two-factor randomized complete block design with 12 replicates. Seeds of cacao var. UF18 were sown in polybags filled with 200 g oven-sterilized soil-sand mixture.  After 1 mo, seedlings were transferred in polybags filled with 2 kg oven-sterilized acidic soil amended with nil to 15% biochar. The soil-biochar mixture was cured for 2 wk prior to seedling transfer. Inoculation with AMF was done during this stage, placed directly beneath the roots. At 6 mo, AMF inoculated cacao seedlings grown in BSB amended soil gave lighter biomass than those grown in no biochar soil. This may suggest that BSB could possibly induce mycorrhizal parasitism as there was a high mycorrhizal infection rate while constitutively having low N and P uptakes. However, the exact mechanisms on how biochar could possibly promote parasitism on plants inoculated with AMF are not yet known. Thus, further studies must be conducted.



Researches on biochar are expanding rapidly due to its potential for carbon sequestration (Lehmann 2007) and improvement of soil fertility (Jeffery et al. 2011, Glaser et al. 2002). Biochar is produced by pyrolyzing biomass under high-temperature and low-oxygen conditions (Lehmann 2007). The alkaline property of biochar supports its use as a soil amendment in acidic soil and for improving soil nutrient availability (Masulili et al. 2010, Muhammad et al. 2018). The amendment of biochar into the soil improves water availability for the plant – increasing soil pH along with nutrient availability and, thus, improving plant growth (Jeffery et al. 2011). The production of biochar from biomass pyrolysis is a great way to manage agricultural wastes (Kwapinski et al. 2010). . . . read more




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