bio char trials

Project Guidance

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Craig White

Jun 2015

We, a commercial nursery in Louisiana, are about to begin a 12 month trial on an enhanced biochar called Cool Terra. Has anyone on the forum had any experience with biochar? I hope to utilize the MultiSpeQ to compare the control group to a 20 Cool Terra mix, Craig

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Ian Hensel

Dec 2015

Biochar, in my limited experience, only has a positive impact when it is paired with a boost to the microbial population. Otherwise it ends binding up nutrients. Broadcast over crop residue or green manure seems to work best.

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Greg Austic

Jun 2015

Not with BioChar per se... but we have had a good amount of experience with drought... which could I expect the improved char would hold more moisture, thus be similar?

Phi2 is definitely affected by lack of moisture, in fact you see that change before any visual signs. Choosing the right leaf to measure is quite important, and making sure you'd taking sufficient number of measurements over a wide variety of light intensities is also critical. In beans, we found that the bottom leaves are the first to be impacted by a lack of water - the plants supplied the first fully expanded leaf with all the energy right up to the bitter end! So measuring that leaf is kind of useless when trying to identify drought.

I'm sure you'll need to do some testing when you get started to see what leaves and locations are best. Please share here, I'd be very interested to see how it goes.

I'll pull in Jesse who did a lot of work with drought to get his thoughts.

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Craig White

Jun 2015

Are you in California? The product we are trialing is called Cool Terra. Current production is in Carmelo ca. I'm in Louisiana no drought here more of a problem with drainage.

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Greg Austic

Jun 2015

No we're in Michigan, so not much drought here either :)

Well, we'll just have to see what happens! If it's a stress change, then phi2 very well may be able to identify it.

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Jesse Traub

Jun 2015

Well, a healthy root system will definitely have impacts on above ground performance, so if Cool Terra leads to healthier roots through drainage or otherwise, that could be reflected in the aboveground performance of the plant. If you see any final differences in growth between the two treatments, I would guess that you would be able to detect differences in Phi2 in the preceding growth phase.

I would be interested in how the experiment turns out as well, if you find any correlation between the Multispeq's measurements and the final acceptability of the two treatments. I would say it is definitely possible that there might be a connection, but I wouldn't say it is guaranteed, especially if the regular growing conditions are pretty good already.

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Craig White

Jun 2015

The producer parent is cool planet. They are building a bio fuel plant in close proximity to my grower base of over a 100 commercial nurseries. The cool terra is a bi product of the process. They claim with the cool terra you can reduce nitrogen fertilizer by 40 percent. This is why we are doing the trial.

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Jesse Traub

Jun 2015

Ah, well if that is their claim, the Multispeq should be very handy for catching any differences. Nitrogen deficiencies should show up in the data as lower rates of Phi2 and lower values for SPAD.

So if you had three groups of plants: those grown in normal potting soil and fertilized at 100% the normal rate, those grown in normal potting soil and fertilized at 60% the normal rate, and those grown in Terra Cool media and fertilized at 60% the normal rate. If Cool Planet's hypothesis is correct, the SPAD and Phi2 values of the Terra Cool grown plants should be closer to the first group fertilized at 100% rather than the second group fertilized at 60%.

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Craig White

Jun 2015

You have it figured out. Now I have to learn how to use the device and how to post the results.

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Greg Austic

Jun 2015

Nice! Yes, now I get it. Definitely SPAD, probably Phi2 if it's a N issue.

Cool - well Craig just keep us posted, we can help you troubleshoot. Make sure to watch the video on the things to consider when creating a new project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lEg-aR44cQ&list=PLL13ff_XAHcTyuRFpi5WWfj98GugMSwUG&index=3

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Craig White

Jun 2015

Thank you so mu c h. I took my first samples yesterday of squash leaves and watched the first two tutorials. Totally pumped. I will gladly accept help.