Weeds such as lantana and parthenium are afflicting our ecosystem. Could they be put to some use?
A researcher from BHU and two scientists from ICAR-IARI and BHU think so. For improving soil fertility, biochar made from lantana and parthenium may be better than those produced from rice husk or bagasse, they say.
Biochar improves microbial activities, potassium availability and corrects the pH of acid soil. How does biochar from lantana and parthenium compare with those derived from rice husk and sugarcane bagasse?
They prepared biochar from agro waste and weeds using pyrolysis – high heat, without oxygen.
They measured the pH of the soils before treating them with the different biochars. Biochar from weeds is rich in basic cations, carbon and nitrogen. So, compared to biochar from agricultural waste, soil treated with weed biochar increased pH and electric conductivity.
Due to the high potassium content in lantana and parthenium, applying biochar from the weeds increased the potassium content of the soil. The high organic content and pH improved soil fertility more than agricultural waste.
Lantana and parthenium are fast-growing and hazardous weeds. But, rich in organic content – good feedstock for producing biochar.
So now the farmers can improve agricultural productivity using these dreadful weeds!
Arch. Agron. Soil Sci., 65: 1302-1315 (2019);
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