Douglas-fir seedling quality in biochar-amended peat substrates

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Jessica L. Sarauer
Mark D. Coleman


Artificial forest regeneration using nursery produced growing stock is commonplace in the Pacific Northwest. High quality seedlings are needed for outplanting success, which depends on a seedling’s ability to establish new roots and overcome stress. Containerized seedling stock is typically grown in artificial growing media.  Peat, a popular component of growing media, is a non-renewable resource.  Biochar has similar physical attributes to peat, which makes it a potential alternative.  In our study, we grew Douglas-fir seedlings in containers with biochar-amended peat-based growing media to determine if biochar could improve seedling quality. Douglas-fir seeds were sown in March 2016 and seedlings were grown under standard light and temperature conditions at an operational forest nursery for nine months. After nine months, seedling quality was assessed for height, diameter, cold hardiness, and root growth potential. Using biochar did not improve Douglas-fir seedling quality, except for slightly increasing cold hardiness and root growth potential for equivalently sized seedlings. Seedlings grown without biochar had increased height and diameter compared to seedlings with biochar and they had higher root growth potential (all dependent on fertilizer rates). Douglas-fir seedling quality might be improved with biochar amendment if negative growth impacts of soil reaction can be overcome.


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How to Cite
Sarauer, Jessica L., and Mark D. Coleman. “Douglas-Fir Seedling Quality in Biochar-Amended Peat Substrates”. REFORESTA0, no. 7 (June 27, 2019): 1-14. Accessed February 4, 2023.