Biochar Comes to the Rescue

Can biochar help preserve soil fertility?

Objectives

Students will be able to

  • determine if the introduction of biochar to soil can affect the crop yield

  • determine if the introduction of biochar to soil can affect the soil retention of nitrate and phosphate

Hypothesis

What do you think?



Materials


  • 64 cubic feet (1 1/5 cu. yd.) soil, peat moss and compost (separated)
  • Rain guage
  • Soil Test Kit (1 per group)
  • Soil Moisture Meter
  • 6 green bean starter plants (per group)
  • 6 lettuce starter plants (per group)
  • Garden tools
  • One ruler per team
  • 2 raised bed kits








Procedure

CONSTRUCTION

1. Students will break into 2 building groups.
2. Each group must have at least one of the following roles
-Recorder
-Refuge Person
-Counter
-Time Keeper
3. Each group will take inventory of individual grow beds to make sure all items are available
4. Each group will take materials outside to designated construction area
5. Students will have 1 fifty minute class to construct their team’s respective grow bed


PLANTING

1. Group 1 will fill Bed 1 with equal parts of peat moss and soil

2. Group 2 will fill Bed 2 with a 45%/45%/5% of peat moss, soil and compost/biochar mixture.

3. Once beds are filled with soil, groups are to test initial soil fertility prior to planting. [Students must create the data table below in their field journals

4. Each group will transplant 6 green bean seedlings and 6 lettuce seedlings. Follow directions on seed packages for proper spacing methods.

5. Students will record Yield Data table in their field journals and take initial measurements


MONITORING

1. Groups will send one ambassador (on a rotating basis) to collect fertility data, yield data and soil moisture. If desired soil moisture is not present (indicated on soil moisture meter), ambassador will water plants until ideal moisture is achieved.






Data tables for this investigation can be found at the Google Doc link below.



Conclusions

After the observations are complete, answer the following questions in your field journal


1. Which bed did produce the greatest yield measurements? Please compare results in your answer.?

2. Why do you believe this occurred?

3. If you were to plant your own garden, how would you compose your garden?