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Influence of Biochar on the iron availability of Chenopodium quinoa.

Kai Elsässer (2013)

Bachelorthesis vom 13.09.2013

 

Influence of Biochar on the iron availability of Chenopodium quinoa.


Einfluss von Biokohle auf die Eisenverfügbarkeit von Chenopodium quinoa.


Abstract

Projections for upcoming years reveal that world population will soon reach alarming proportions. Therefore preparations have to be made in order to provide a sufficient food supply for future generations. One of many problems in this regard is the pollution of soil by toxic substances, such as heavy metals, which can make many areas unattractive for cultivation. Being one of those substances, iron is very toxic in high concentrations and can cause severe damage to plants. At the same time, it is also a highly needed mineral that is essential for many different processes in metabolism. However, the actual impact of iron ins rather determined by its availability for plats than by its quantity. In this context, Biochar offers several interesting properties, to be a hypothetical answer to heavy metal related stress. Due to its porous nature Biochar is able to bind many substances and therefore could also be able to change the availability of iron. In this study interactions between iron, quinoa plants and Biochar were investigated. For this purpose measurements on plants gas exchange as well as on electron transport rate were carried out to determinate stress levels of the plants caused by different iron treatments. In addition, weight of leaves, shoots and roots was measured, to evaluate the influence of iron and Biochar on plants growth and on distribution of resources. Application of Biochar to soil led to improvements in water holding capacity and pH-value of the substrates. Biochar could also significantly increase the weight of plants and altered proportions between plant components in flavor of the roots. Results of the investigation also have shown that photosynthesis is not affected by Biochar. On the other hand, high concentrations of iron significantly reduced photosynthesis as well as growth but did not take effect on proportions of the plants. Although other experiments already indicated that Biochar is able to lower the availability of heavy metals for plants, findings of this study could not confirm this clearly. Secondly – during low concentrations of iron – no evidence was found that Biochar could worsen conditions for plants by further decreasing availability of iron.

Since there are no present studies on the effect of Biochar on iron deficiency, further investigations on this topic seem promising.