The Influence of Biochar Soil Amendment on Tree Growth and Soil Quality: A Review for the Arboricultural Industry
Emma Schaffert, Martin Lukac, Glynn Percival, and Gillian Rose
Abstract: Studies assessing the effects of biochar used as a soil amendment in agriculture and forestry have indicated variable results, from significant improvements in growth and health to no effect at all. Research into biochar use for trees within the urban landscape is extremely limited. This review is aimed at arboricultural practitioners and professionals involved in urban tree landscape management and provides a critical analysis of the use of biochar to support tree health and establishment. Biochar, specifically wood biomass-based biochar, has the potential to enhance tree establishment and survival. However, considerable variability in the physical and chemical properties of biochar currently limits universal application. Therefore, practitioners should aim to use biochar types suitable for the desired function, such as transplant establishment, remediation of declining mature trees, and pest/disease management. Biochar also represents a promising complementary amendment to more established soil management techniques such as mulching and fertilization, but further long-term studies in a range of conditions typical of urban environments are required to fully understand the effects of specific biochar types on urban trees.
Keywords: Biomass; Root Growth; Soil Amendment; Soil Compaction; Tree Survival.