Date of Award:

12-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Advisor/Chair:

David Hole

Abstract

Organic wheat grown under dryland conditions encounters challenges such as limited nutrients and water. Maintaining organic wheat production requires solutions to these problems in order to retain economic sustainability for the farmers.

Research on biochar and compost have been conducted globally. Despite well known benefits of compost on soil and crop production, few organic farmers apply compost to their fields. Research on biochar is still new. Biochar is charcoal created from pyrolyzing agricultural material under conditions of low oxygen and high heat. Many studies claim that biochar is a valuable soil amendment for improving organic production and reducing environmental pollution (such as greenhouse gas emission, water pollution, or nutrient leaching). It may hold more moisture in the soil and retain nutrients. We conducted a study on the interactions between biochar and compost in organic winter wheat production and soil quality under dryland conditions. We analyzed the response to biochar and compost, and investigated individual and combined effects on wheat yield, wheat quality, and soil quality.

This study revealed that compost had significant impacts on increasing wheat yield and had slight impacts on soil quality while biochar had none to slight impacts on soil and wheat production. We validated the usefulness of compost for organic wheat production in dryland condition, but found no real benefit for biochar in this first year.

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