Changes in Soil Chemical Properties and Lettuce Yield Response Following Incorporation of Biochar and Cow Dung to Highly Weathered Acidic Soils

K A Frimpong, E Amoakwah, B A Osei, E Arthur


Soil fertility decline is a major biophysical constraint to crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, there is an urgent need for sustainable soil fertility replenishment strategies to improve soil quality for enhanced crop production. In a laboratory incubation experiment, biochar (2% and 5%) and cow dung (20 tons ha-1) were applied singly, and 2% biochar was applied in combination with two rates of cow dung (10 and 20 tons ha-1) in a coastal savanna soil repacked at a bulk density of 1.4 g cm-3 at a constant soil water filled capacity of 60% for 40 days. The same treatments were imposed on two highly weathered, acidic soils from the coastal savanna and tropical rainforest agroecological zones of Ghana, respectively, to elucidate their effect on yield of lettuce. The study showed that application of biochar solely or in combination with cow dung increased soil pH, total organic carbon, and cation exchange capacity, and temporarily increased soil respiration and microbial biomass carbon. Further, incorporation of combined application of cow dung and biochar increased lettuce yield more than sole incorporation of either amendment. The study demonstrated that corn cob biochar can improve soil chemical properties and lettuce yield if applied solely or in combination with cow dung.


Biochar; lettuce; microbial biomass; soil fertility; soil respiration


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