Investigating the Effects of Varying Biochars on Seedling Root Rot in Soybean Plants Innoculated with Pythium sylvaticum

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Fate, Bennett
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Plant Pathology, Entomology and Microbiology
The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Department of Entomology officially merged as of September 1, 2022. The new department is known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology (PPEM). The overall mission of the Department is to benefit society through research, teaching, and extension activities that improve pest management and prevent disease. Collectively, the Department consists of about 100 faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities that are central to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department possesses state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in the Advanced Research and Teaching Building and in Science II. In addition, research and extension activities are performed off-campus at the Field Extension Education Laboratory, the Horticulture Station, the Agriculture Engineering/Agronomy Farm, and several Research and Demonstration Farms located around the state. Furthermore, the Department houses the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Insect Zoo, and BugGuide. Several USDA-ARS scientists are also affiliated with the Department.
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Pathogenic fungi and fungal-like organisms can greatly damage soybean yields leading to economic and social consequences. One possible solution is the use of biochar in mitigating the effects of these pathogenic organisms. An important genus of waterborne pathogens to soybeans is Pythium, which causes root rot in young seedlings. We hypothesized that if we vary the types of biochar added to soil infested with Pythium sylvaticum, the soybean plants will have varying degrees of root rot depending on the presence and source of the biochar. Our secondary hypothesis is that the biochar with higher volumetric water content will have more severe root rot. We will test four different biochars from different sources. Each biochar will be added to pasteurized soil infested with P. sylvaticum and soybean plants will be grown, in cups, in these amended soils. Approximately 3 weeks after emergence, the seedlings will be removed, roots will be washed, and we will record % root rot, root dry weight, shoot dry weight, and soil pH. After obtaining the data, it will be analyzed for significant relationships between the type of biochar, soil moisture and seedling root rot. This research offers a potential alternative to fungicide to enhance agricultural productivity.
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