Growing Lettuce in Salty Soil with Charcoal Additives

Feb 29, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a University of Siena study, biochar improved lettuce growth under salt stress
  • Biochar increased lettuce’s weight, chlorophyll, and protein content
  • However, biochar did not reduce the plant’s sodium uptake

In agricultural regions where water scarcity forces reliance on saline water for irrigation, salt stress has emerged as a significant threat to crop productivity and food security. The University of Siena’s recent research[1] has made strides in addressing this issue by exploring the use of biochar, a carbon-rich material produced from plant biomass through pyrolysis, as a means to mitigate the detrimental effects of salt on lettuce, a widely consumed leafy vegetable.

The study examined the response of lettuce plants to a range of salt (NaCl) concentrations, from none to levels that are highly stressful for most crops. Researchers added 5% biochar to the soil to determine its impact on various growth parameters, including the plant’s weight, chlorophyll content, and antioxidant power. These indicators provide insights into the overall health and productivity of the plants.

The findings were revealing. Salt concentrations starting at 100-200 mM negatively impacted the lettuce, a trend consistent with the struggles of many plants under saline conditions. However, the introduction of biochar showed a positive effect, improving the plants’ fresh weight, chlorophyll content, and total soluble proteins. These enhancements suggest that biochar can bolster the plant’s ability to maintain growth and vitality in the face of salt stress.

Continue reading at Natural Science News