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Response and Availability of Potassium in Wheat Crops to Applications of Biochar

Response and Availability of Potassium in Wheat Crops to Applications of Biochar

  • Author: Northern Agricultural Catchments Council
  • Date Posted: Feb 11, 2015
  • Category:

Project Details

Project Delivery: Energy Farmers Australia

Contact: Euan Beamont

Phone: (08) 9965 0259



Supporting Organisation: Northern Agricultural Catchments Council


Start Date: December 2014    End Date: May 2016

Site ID: 1512-05-04

Size Are Ha: 1


Project Aim

Many wheat farmers are burning wheat straw harvest rows to control chemical resistant weeds. Considering that wheat straw is quite high in potassium (K) and that K is a nutrient that is often limiting in low K soils, is there potential to process wheat straw through pyrolysis to produce renewable energy and use the by-product (biochar) to return K to soil types low in K. In effect, “mine” potassium from soil types high in K to use in soils low in K.

The trial will explore applications of wheat straw biochar at various rates to low potassium (K) soils to observe plant response in terms of yield, K availability to plants and economic impacts.

The trial will be carried out at Mungala Farm, Mullewa in a soil type typically low in potassium.


Small plot trials will consist of a minimum of 3 replications for each treatment and include:

  • Control (No treatment)
  • Standard treatment with a traditional fertiliser
  • 4 x biochar treatments – At this point the analysis of the biochar being used is unavailable so application rates haven’t been set yet however would include something like:
    • Biochar with traditional (low K) fertiliser x 2 rates
    • Biochar only at  2 rates
  • Biochar would be applied with the fertilisers, either under (deep banded) or with the seed.


This project is being delivered by Energy Farmers Australia Pty Ltd and is supported by Northern Agricultural Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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    1 Comment

  1. A trial that needs doing – well done.
    What method are you using to produce the biochar?
    Is much K, P, or other nutrients escaping up the chimney?
    Consult Paul Blackwell re his work with P to better quantify your results.
    Will be watching your progress closely.
    Have long felt that stubble and more especially burnt stubble is an under utilised or wasted resource.
    If you have hi-res auto steer available do trials with three bands of Biochar and seed at right angles.
    Would like to suggest additional trials.
    Plant to repeat crop same site for a number of years.
    Biological changes, and most of the biochar effect is biological, normally take up to seven years to properly kick in.
    Best wishes,
    John Hicks.

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