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The use of biochar fortified compost on calcareous soil of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia: 2. Effect on the yield of maize (Zea Mays l) and phosphate absorption.


The role of soil organic matter in crop production had for a long time been recognized [10]. Recently, it is known that in addition to its traditional function in maintaining soil health, soil organic matter has also an important role in mitigating climate change. However, due to miss management in the past, most agricultural soils are now facing problems due to very low soil organic matter content [23,17]. The conventional approach to overcome this problem is done by adding organic manure, either in fresh form or converted to compost. However, it is now understood that the use of this organic manure possess some limitations due to its rapid decomposition. The rapid decomposition of organic manure made its application should be done at every planting season. This practice makes farming operation expensive, and with increasing biomass competition for other use had caused farmers reluctant to practice organic manure application [24,19]. Furthermore, in respect to environmental conditions, decomposition and mineralization of organic matter has been attributed as one of the major sources of global warming due to emissions of methane and nitrous-oxide [21].

Looking the experience of Amazon terra preta soils, recently some workers employed a more recalcitrant organic material called "biochar" [20]. A lot of researches had shown the positive effects of biochar as a soil amendment, either for improving soil fertility status [16,22,28] or increasing crop yield [16,24,19,35]. However, most of experiments which show positive effects were done on acid soils [20,35,27,24]. Information on the studies of biochar on calcareous soil is limited, and its effect varied (Mikan and Abrams, 1995), and even in some cases had a negative effect on crop yield [34]. This was thought that most biochar has a neutral to alkaline properties [15] with high Ca content; hence the use of biochar on calcareous soil would decrease Phosphate availability due to Ca-P fixation. Therefore, it was thought that in these soils a combination of biochar and the traditional compost would has a better effect.

Dias et al. [18] used biochar as a bulking agent for composting of poultry manure, and the result showed that the use of biochar as a bulking agent increased compost quality i.e. had a high polymerization degree of the humic-like substances, with a relative high proportion of humic acids in relation to fulvic acids. Furthermore, they showed that addition of biochar in composting poultry manure decreased nitrogen lost in the mature compost. In our earlier study we showed that addition of biochar for composting farm yard manure and Siam weed (Chromolaenaodorata L.) did not increase the pH of the compost, and increased fulvic acid. Stevenson [32] has shown that fulvic acid had a high CEC and therefore Nuret, suggested that the used of biochar fortified compost would absorb more cation (such as Ca++), and hence increase the availability of P in calcareous soil. The objective of the experiment reported here was to study the effect of biochar fortified compost on maize yield on calcareous soil. The study also intended to investigate the effect of biochar fortified compost on soil phosphate behavior and the absorption of phosphate by these maize plants.

Materials and Methods

Experimental treatments:

The experiment was carried out on farmers' land in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia ((10o10'17"S, 123o38'47"E, 150 m above the sea level). The mean annual rainfall is 1.539 mm with rainy season starts on December/January and ends on March/April. The mean daily temperature is 311[degrees]C and relative humidity in raily season is 82%. The soil belongs to Typicustropept (SoilSurvey Staff, 1998). The soil has a silty clay loam texture with 34 % clay content, pH ([H.sub.2]O) of 7.4,organic- C content of 1.63%, total- N content of 0.10%, total-P of 417.28 mg [kg.sup.-1], and available P (Olson) of 9.12 mg [kg.sup.-1]. The cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the soil is 13.06 (cmol [kg.sup.-1]) with exchangeable Ca, Mg and K are 11.09, Mg 1.02 and K 0.27 cmol [kg.sup.-1] respectively.

Biochar was made from Farm Yard Manure (FYM) and Siam weed (CromolaenaodorataL.) with the method described by Sukartonoet al. (2011), and composting was made as described by Nuret. The biochar used for composting were at ratio (w/w) of 3/1 (3 proportion of compost material, and 1 proportion of biochar) and 1/1. The properties of biochar, FYM Compost, Siam weed compost, and the fortified compost are presented in Table 1.

The treatments studied in this experiment were 8 organic amendment applications, i.e.: (1) Farm Yard Manure (FYM) compost. (2) FYM compost + biochar (1/1), (3) biochar fortified FYM compost 3/1, (4) Biochar fortified FYM compost 1/1, (5) Siam weed (Chromolaenaodorata L.) compost, (6) biochar fortified Siam weed compost 3/1, (7) biochar fortifiedSiam weed compost 1/1, and (8) without compost as the control. These 8 treatments were arranged in a Randomize Block Design with 3 replications.

Experimental procedure:

The experiments were done in 2 planting season; the first maize was planted on the rainy season (January to April 2013) and the second maize was planted in dry season (April to June 2013). The first maize, BISI- hybrid variety, was planted on a plot of 4.9 m x 3.6 m with plat distance of 0.7m x 0.30 m. Tillage was done with a hand tractor, and the organic amendment (10 Mg[ha.sup.-1]) was given a week before planting. The crops was fertilized with 45 kg N[ha.sup.-1], 18 kg [P.sub.2][O.sub.5] [ha.sup.-1], dan 17,5 kg [K.sub.2]O [ha.sup.-1]. 1/3 rate of N (given in the form of urea, 45% N), all P (superphosphate, 36% [P.sub.2][O.sub.5]), and K (KCl, 50% [K.sub.2]O) were applied at the planting time, and the rest of N was given at 21 days after planting. The crops were harvested at 105 days after planting, after which the second maize, Genjah Madura (a local short maturity variety from Madura, Indonesia) was planted at plant distance of 0.35 x 0.30 m. The fertilizers were applied the same with the first maize, and at planting the second maize the land was irrigated to about field capacity, after which there was no irrigation applied. Harvesting was done at 80 days after planting.

The crop measurement was done for root weight, total biomass and grain yield. Root weight was determined at grain filling phase with the core method as described by Yamato et al. [35]. At each harvesting time, six soil samples (at a depth of 0-20 cm) of about 0.5 kg each were collected in a zigzag pattern from each plot, mixed, and then a 0.5 kg composite sample of each was processed for laboratory analysis. The sample was measured for soil pH (1:2.5 [H.sub.2]O) measured with pH-meter soil organic carbon with the Walkley and Black method (Soil Survey Laboratory Staff, 1992), and total Nitrogen determined with the Kjeldahl method [14]. Adsorbed soil P was determined with the method used by Blackmore et al. [13] and available P with Olsen method [26]. To determine cation exchange capacity (CEC) the sample was extracted with C[H.sub.3]COON[H.sub.4] (I N; pH 7.0) and the base concentration measured with AAS (ShimatzuAA 6800, Shimatzu Corp., Kyoto, Japan). Phosphate content in the plant was extracted with wet oxidation with HNO3dan HClO4 [12] and the concentration of P was measured with spectrometer (Vitatron Scientific Instruments Dieren, the Netherlands).

ANOVA was performed for data analysis, and if there was a significant different (p=0.05) the Duncan's Multiple Range Test was used to differentiate between treatment.

Result and Discussion

The experimental results presented in Table 2 show that the effect of biochar fortified compost on soil pH did not significantly different with that of pure FYM or Siam weed compost and with the control treatment. The use of pure FYM compost + biochar (1/1), on the other hand significantly increased soil pH both after the first and second maize. These results was not surprising because the pH of biochar fortified compost does not different from the pH of pure FYM compost and pure Siam weed compost (Table 1, see also Nur), whereas the pH of biochar is higher than the compost pH.

The results in Table 2 also show that organic amendment addition increased soil organic carbon and nitrogen content. These are reasonable because the organic amendment use in this experiment has high organic carbon and nitrogen content (see Table 1). Until harvesting the second maize soil organic content of the soil applied with organic amendment was still higher compared to the control treatment. This result indicates that until harvesting the second maize the increase of soil organic carbon was still exist in both pure compost and biochar fortified compost. Therefore, until 6 months application, we could not see the advantage of addition the recalcitrant organic carbon in fortified compost (compared to pure FYM or Siam weed compost) . Looking the data presented in Table 2, however, we can conclude that the biochar fortified compost has an additional advantage compare to the pure biochar, because in addition acted as a soil amendment, these biochar fortified compost could supply nitrogen to the soil.

Similar to pure compost treatment, application of biochar fortified compost decreased adsorbed P and increased available P (Table 2). As discussed before, different from the most pure biochar where it application increased soil pH [21,24] application biochar fortified compost did not influence soil pH. Therefore the worries that there will be an increase of P fixation did not happen. The decreased of absorbed P in both pure compost and biochar fortified compost treated soil might be due to the occurrence of humic and fulvic acid in those organic amendments [18]. Based on this result, it can be suggested that biochar fortified compost is suitable for calcareous soil.

The experimental results presented in Table 3 show that all soil treated with organic amendment possessed a higher cation exchange capacity, exchangeable magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K), but did not significantly influenced exchangeable calcium (Ca). Looking the properties of the organic amendment used in this experiment (Table 1) it was strange that the high calcium content in Siam weed based compost did not significantly influenced the exchangeable Ca in the soil. Actually this was not surprising because the exchangeable Ca content in the soil is very high (11.09cmol [kg.sup.-1]). With cation exchange capacity of the soil 13.06 cmol [kg.sup.-1], addition of exchangeable Ca would be in the form of soluble Ca which susceptible for leaching. The increase in cation exchange capacity of the soil with organic matter amendment application was explainable because either the pure compost or biochar fortified compost have high cation exchange capacity (Table 1).

Application of both the pure and biochar fortified compost increased maize root weight (Table 4). Enhancement of root growth of maize applied in both pure and biochar fortified compost might be caused by the improvement of soil physical properties as suggested by Chan et al. [16]. Improvement of root growth, together with increasing nutrient availability (Table 3), application of both pure compost and biochar fortified compost increased total biomass and grain yield of maize planted on calcareous soil. The results in Table 4 show that the control treatment produced total biomass of 8.83 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (first maize) and 3.40 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (second maize) with 1.97 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (first maize) and 0.68 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (second maize), and the organic amendment treatment produced total biomass of 14.62-17.20 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (first maize) and 7.27-8.85 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (second maize) with 3.72-4.82 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (first maize) and 1.85-2.31 Mg[ha.sup.-1] (second maize).

The results in Table 4 also show that biochar fortified compost especially that of Siam weed based compost, had a tendency to produce a higher total biomass and grain yield than the pure compost.

The lower yield of dry season/second maize (compared to the rainy/first maize) did not mean that the positive effect of organic amendment application already disappeared, but was merely due to the different in its genetic potential yield production. BISI-Hybrid cv is a high yielding variety with potential yield of more than 8 Mg[ha.sup.-1], whereas Genjah Madura is a local variety with potential yield of about 3-4 Mg[ha.sup.-1].


The experimental discussed above show that application of biochar fortified compost increased the yield of rainy and dry season maize on calcareous soil. The use of biochar fortified compost improved the positive impact of both compost and biochar. It did not increase pH of calcareous soil, can maintain the value of compost as plant nutrient resources and the recalcitrant of organic carbon possessed by biochar. Application of fortified biochar decreased soil absorbed phosphate, increased available phosphate, and hence increased phosphate absorption by maize plants


This article is a part of dissertation of the first author at the School of Post Graduate Study, University of Brawijaya, Malang. Thank to Directorate of Higher education for her financial support, and to PPIKID Team of University of Brawijaya for their help in article preparation.


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(1) M.S.M. Nur, (2) T. Islami, (3) E. Handayanto, (4) W.H. Nugroho and (3) W.H. Utomo

(1) Nusa Cendana University, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

(2) Department of Agronomy, University of Brawijaya, Malang 65145, Indonesia

(3) In ternationalResearch Centre for the Managemen tof Degraded and Mining Lands, University of Brawijaya, Malang 65145, Indonesia

(4) Faculty of Mathematics and Science, University of Brawijaya, Malang 65145, Indonesia

Corresponding Author: Titiek Islami, Department of Agronomy, University of Brawijaya. Jalan Veteran, Malang 65145, Indonesia.


Received: 25 April 2014; Revised:: 20 May 2014; Accepted: 25 May 2014; Available online: 28 June 2014
Table 1: Some characteristics of the organic amendment use in
the experiment.

                                      Compost types

Characters        Biochar    FYM         Biochar         Biochar
                            compost   fortified FYM   fortified FYM
                                       compost 3/1     compost 1/1

pH ([H.sub.2]O)     8,7       7,6          7,6             7,7
C-organik (%)      28,6      16,23        17,28           20,74
Total-N (%)        0,78      1,78         1,50            1,43
P (%)              0,21      0,22         0,24            0,27
C:N ratio          36,7       9,1         11,6            14,5
C:P ratio          136,2     73,78        72,0            75,3
K (%)              0,82      0,86         0,93            0,98
Ca (%)             0,79      0,80         0,85            0,88
Mg (%)             0,76      0,77         0,81            0,84
EXC (%) *)          --       6,89         7,23            8,21
CAH (%)             --       5,47         5,56            5,59
CAF (%)             --       1,42         1,67            2,62

                                        Compost types

Characters        Biochar   Siam weed     Biochar       Biochar
                             compost     fortified     fortified
                                           Siam        Siam weed
                                        weedcompost   compost 1/1

pH ([H.sub.2]O)     8,7        7,4          7,5           7,4
C-organik (%)      28,6       23,84        24,01         25,76
Total-N (%)        0,78       2,61         2,33          1,89
P (%)              0,21       0,59         0,56          0,52
C:N ratio          36,7        9,0         10,4          13,6
C:P ratio          136,2      40,4         42,9          48,6
K (%)              0,82       1,83         1,51          1,32
Ca (%)             0,79       1,90         1,58          1,41
Mg (%)             0,76       0,71         0,78          0,81
EXC (%) *)          --        10,9         11,42         13,6
CAH (%)             --        8,76         8,79          9,27
CAF (%)             --        2,14         2,63          4,37

*) EXC (total C alkaline extracted), CAH (C humic acid), CAF
(C fulvic acid).

Table 2: Effect of organic amendment application on soil pH,
C-organic and total N.

Treatment           pH                  C -organic (%)

                    First     Second    First    Second
                    maize     maize     maize    maize

Control             7,44 a    7,45 a    1,68 a   1,64 a
FYM compost         7,48 a    7,49 a    1,79 b   1,76 b
Biochar fortified   7,53 a    7,52 a    1,79 b   1,77 b
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   7,56 ab   7,57 ab   1,80 b   1,80 b
  FYM compost 1/1
FYM compost +       7,58 b    7,59 b    1,81 b   1,80 b
  biochar (1/1)
Siam weed compost   7,44 a    7,45 a    1,79 b   1,76 b
Biochar fortified   7,45 a    7,45 a    1,81 b   1,79 b
  siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   7,44 a    7,46 a    1,82 b   1,81 b
  siam weed
  compost 1/1

Treatment           Total--N (%)       Adsorbed P
                                       (mg [kg.sup.-1])

                    First    Second    First       Second
                    maize    maize     maize       maize

Control             0,11 a   0,11 a    206,16 d    207,13 d
FYM compost         0,13 b   0,13 b    195,15 c    198,33 c
Biochar fortified   0,13 b   0,13 b    195,72 c    197,59 bc
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   0,14 b   0,15 c    191,16 b    194,88 bc
  FYM compost 1/1
FYM compost +       0,13 b   0,13 b    195,97 c    199,27 c
  biochar (1/1)
Siam weed compost   0,13 b   0,13 b    189,34 b    192,14 bc
Biochar fortified   0,14 b   0,14 bc   187,25 ab   190,56 b
  siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   0,14 b   0,15 c    182,14 a    183,00 a
  siam weed
  compost 1/1

Treatment           Available P
                    (mg [kg.sup.-1])

                    First     Second
                    maize     maize

Control             8,63 a    8,27 a
FYM compost         12,39 b   12,13 b
Biochar fortified   12,70 b   12,33 b
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   13,75 b   13,28 bc
  FYM compost 1/1
FYM compost +       12,2 b    11,82 b
  biochar (1/1)
Siam weed compost   15,33 c   14,41 cd
Biochar fortified   16,61 c   15,74 d
  siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   18,36 d   18,27 e
  siam weed
  compost 1/1

*) means followed by the same letters is not significantly
different (p=0.05)

**) before experiment soil pH: 7.4; C-organic: 1.63% and total-N:
0.10%; total P 417.28 (mg [kg.sup.-1]); available
P 9.12(mg [kg.sup.-1])

Table 3: Effect of organic amendment application on CEC
and exchangeable bases.

Treatment                   CEC                  Exch. Ca
                     (cmol [kg.sup.-1])   (cmol [kg.sup.-1])

                     First      Second     First    Second
                     maize      maize      maize     maize

Control             12,59 a    11,62 a    11,05 a   10,03 a
FYM compost         14,73 b    13,69 b    11,16 a   11,14 a
Biochar fortified   15,12 bc   14,42 bc   10,17 a   11,13 a
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   16,18 bc   16,29 c    11,17 a   11,14 a
  FYM compost 1/1
FYM compost         15,33 bc   14,62 bc   11,19 a   11,16 a
  + biochar (1/1)
Siam weed compost   15,64 bc   14,57 bc   11,33 a   11,31 a
Biochar fortified   16,27 bc   15,54 bc   11,28 a   11,24 a
  siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   16,75 c    16,64 c    11,25 a   11,21 a
  siam weed
  compost 1/1

Treatment            Exch. Mg (cmol        Exch. K
                      [kg.sup.-1])    (cmol [kg.sup.-1])

                    First    Second    First    Second
                    maize    maize     maize     maize

Control             1,10 a   1,00 a   0,23 a    0,23 a
FYM compost         1,42 b   1,41 b   0,39 b    0,37 b
Biochar fortified   1,43 b   1,42 b   0,39 b    0,38 b
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   1,44 b   1,42 b   0,39 b    0,38 b
  FYM compost 1/1
FYM compost         1,47 b   1,46 b   0,40 b    0,39 b
  + biochar (1/1)
Siam weed compost   1,40 b   1,40 b   0,45 c    0,44 c
Biochar fortified   1,42 b   1,40 b   0,42 bc   0,41 bc
  siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   1,43 b   1,41 b   0,41 b    0,39 b
  siam weed
  compost 1/1

*) means followed by the same letters is not significantly
different (p=0.05)

**) before experiment: CEC 13.06 (cmol [kg.sup.-1]);
exchangeable Ca 11.09 (cmol [kg.sup.-1]), Exch. Mg 1.02
(cmol [kg.sup.-1]); K 0.27 (cmol [kg.sup.-1])

Table 4: Effect of organic amendment application total
biomass, maize yield and root weight.

Treatment               Total biomass       Grain yield
                     (Mg[ha.sup.-1])    (Mg[ha.sup.-1])

                     First     Second     First    Second
                     maize      maize     maize     maize

Control              8,83 a    3,40 a    1,97 a    0,68 a
FYM compost         14,62 b    7,27 b    3,72 b    1,85 b
Biochar fortified   15,01 b    7,42 b    3,86 bc   1,86 b
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   15,49 b    7,64 b    4,04 c    1,97 bc
  FYM compost 1/1
Manure compost      15,09 b    7,54 b    3,90 bc   1,88 b
  + biochar(1/1)
Siam weed compost   16,59 c    7,93 bc   4,39 d    2,01 bc
Biochar fortified   17,20 cd   8,51 cd   4,54 de   2,19 cd
  Siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   18,22 d    8,85 d    4,82 e    2,31 d
  siam weed
  compost 1/1

Treatment               Root weight           Absorbed P
                    (mg 100[cm.sup.-3])    (Mg[ha.sup.-1])

                      First      Second     First     Second
                      maize      maize      maize      maize

Control              53,75 a    18,56 a     6,58 a    2,77 a
FYM compost         120,82 b    59,25 b    13,32 b    6,57 b
Biochar fortified   120,62 b    57,95 b    13,67 b    6,62 b
  FYM compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   124,29 b    61,44 bc   14,32 bc   6,94 b
  FYM compost 1/1
Manure compost      121,19 b    58,82 b    13,22 b    6,45 b
  + biochar(1/1)
Siam weed compost   139,62 c    65,70 cd   15,00 bc   7,00 bc
Biochar fortified   144,52 cd   69,60 de   16,12 cd   7,69 cd
  Siam weed
  compost 3/1
Biochar fortified   151,87 d    72,67 e    17,23 d    7,82 d
  siam weed
  compost 1/1
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Research Article
Author:Nur, M.S.M.; Islami, T.; Handayanto, E.; Nugroho, W.H.; Utomo, W.H.
Publication:American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Apr 1, 2014
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