Productivity gains in vegetables from rice husk biochar application in nutrient-poor soils in Timor-Leste

Rob Williams, Joao Bosco Belo, Julieta Lidia, Salvador Soares, Decio Ribeiro, Celestino L. Moreira, Luis Almeida, Louise Barton, William Erskine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Response to fertilisation with biochar is greatest in field crops on acidic tropical soils, but limited information is available for vegetable crops. As a case-study using vegetable production in Timor-Leste, we assessed if biochar alleviates nutritional constraints to vegetables in low-nutrient soils. Field trials on vegetable crops were conducted with fertiliser combinations of rice husk biochar, phosphate and local fertiliser at three sites. A pot soil incubation trial of biochar was undertaken with soil from the acid site, where rice husk biochar had a larger effect on productivity than the other fertilisers in chili pepper, tomato and soybean with an average yield increase with biochar of 230% over control. Combining phosphate with biochar augmented the yield over biochar alone in chili pepper, tomato and soybean. At neutral and alkaline sites, fertilisation with biochar lifted mean yield over the control. Soil constraints alleviated by fertiliser were primarily from P and Zn deficiencies. Marked increases in vegetable yields, among the highest globally, were achieved with fertilisation with biochar individually and in combination with phosphate in low nutrient soil in Timor-Leste. Clearly, rice husk biochar is a promising avenue to fertilise the soil with P and Zn and increase crop productivity in Timor-Leste.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10858
Number of pages1
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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