Effect of Cattle Manure Biochar and Drought Stress on the Growth Characteristics and Water Use Efficiency of Spinach under Greenhouse Conditions

Document Type : Research Paper



Drought and its resulting stress is one of the most important common environmental stresses that limit agricultural productions. In order to evaluate the effect of cattle manure biochar on the growth, yield, and water use efficiency of spinach at different soil moisture status, a factorial completely randomized design with 3 replications was conducted under greenhouse conditions during October 2014 to January 2015. Treatments consisted of four biochar levels (0, 1.25, 2.5 and 5% wt of initial soil) and three soil moisture levels (FC (without stress), 0.7FC, and 0.55FC). To compensate the water losses via evapotranspiration, the pots were weighted every day and water stress was imposed by adding the water required in each treatment. Total water consumption during the growing season was also determined. Results indicated that application of both soil water stress levels resulted in significant reduction in leaf area, stomatal conductance, water consumption, and fresh and dry weight as compared to those of the controls (without water stress and biochar application). The greenness index significantly increased by 14%, 14%, and 11 % as compared to that of the control when soil moisture level of 0.55 FC was applied at the first, second, and third growth stages (40, 55 and 70 days after planting), respectively. Application of biochar also significantly increased greenness index, leaf area, and stomatal conductance as compared to that of the control. Soil moisture stress up to 0.7FC decreased the plant water consumption; however, it did not affect the water use efficiency, significantly; while water stress level of 0.55 FC decreased water use efficiency significantly. In general, application of 1.25 biochar (25 ton/ha) as compared to the control decreased the negative effects of water stress on plant (reducing leaf area, fresh and dry weight, etc.) and improved plant growth indices and increased the growth of plant at all of the applied water stress levels. Therefore, in order to reduce water consumption and improve the growth and yield of plants, biochar application, especially under drought stress conditions or in greenhouse conditions, is recommended. Meanwhile, performing such an experiment under field conditions is also suggested.


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