How Biochar Helps Tomatoes Grow in Drought and Salty Conditions

Greg Howard
10th May, 2024

How Biochar Helps Tomatoes Grow in Drought and Salty Conditions

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Pakistan's arid regions, tomatoes suffer from growth issues due to drought and saline water
  • Adding biochar to soil helps tomatoes grow better, even with less water and high salinity
  • Biochar improves water efficiency and plant health, leading to increased tomato yields
In arid regions where water is scarce, farmers face the challenge of growing crops with limited resources. Saline water, often the only available water source, can be detrimental to plant growth. However, a new study from Kunming University of Science and Technology[1] has shed light on how the application of biochar, a form of charcoal used to improve soil properties, can help tomatoes thrive under these challenging conditions. The study focused on the tomato plant, Solanum lycopersicum, a staple in diets worldwide. Researchers set out to understand how different levels of water stress, combined with saline conditions, affected tomato growth and yield. They experimented with varying irrigation levels and water quality, and the addition of biochar to the soil. Findings from the study indicated that both drought and saline conditions negatively impacted the physical growth and physiological functions of tomato plants. Parameters such as plant height, leaf area, and the rate of photosynthesis were all compromised when the plants were irrigated with only 40% or 60% of the water they needed. Saline water further exacerbated these effects. However, when biochar was added to the soil, the adverse effects of both drought and saline stress were mitigated. Biochar improved the water-use efficiency and overall health of the plants, leading to better growth and higher yields. Specifically, tomato yield increased by varying percentages across different levels of water stress when compared to the control group without biochar. The positive effects of biochar can be attributed to its ability to enhance soil water-holding capacity and provide plants with essential nutrients[2]. This aligns with previous research showing that soil amendments like biochar and compost can improve soil water relationships and nutrient uptake in plants[3]. Moreover, the combined application of biochar with water-retaining agents has been found to increase soil water retention capacity and improve crop drought resistance[4]. The study also complements findings on the plasticity of plants, such as tomatoes, in response to drought stress[5]. While domesticated tomatoes typically have higher transpiration rates, leading to quicker drought exposure, the use of biochar could potentially help these varieties maintain better soil moisture and delay the onset of stress. In conclusion, the research demonstrates that biochar is a promising tool for enhancing the resilience of tomato plants to water and saline stress. It offers a sustainable solution for agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions, where water scarcity and soil salinity are prevalent challenges. This study not only contributes to our understanding of plant responses to environmental stressors but also provides practical insights for improving crop production in harsh environments.

AgricultureSustainabilityPlant Science


Main Study

1) The impact of biochar addition on morpho-physiological characteristics, yield and water use efficiency of tomato plants under drought and salinity stress

Published 9th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Genomics, Proteomics, and Metabolomics Approaches to Improve Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Tomato Plant.

3) Biochar and compost from cotton residues inconsistently affect water use efficiency, nodulation, and growth of legumes under arid conditions.

4) Combined biochar and water-retaining agent application increased soil water retention capacity and maize seedling drought resistance in Fluvisols.

5) The balance of survival: Comparative drought response in wild and domesticated tomatoes.

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