Effect of Bat Guano and Biochar on Okra Yield and Some Soil Properties uri icon


  • The difficulty in obtaining commercial fertilizers by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa makes it very important to optimize the use of local organic resources. In VilanKulo, Mozambique, a study was carried out on okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) over two growing seasons. The soil was a haplic, loamy-sand textured Lixisol. As organic amendments, bat guano and biochar were used. Bat guano is a phosphorus (P)-rich and low-carbon (C)/nitrogen (N)-ratio material from natural deposits on a cave floor. Biochar is a C-rich material prepared via an artisanal process using forest residues as a feedstock. Bat guano was applied at two rates (5 and 10 t ha(-1)) just before sowing. It was also applied at the same rates one month before sowing. Biochar was used at two rates (5 and 10 t ha(-1)) applied at sowing. Biochar and guano were mixed at the rates of 1 and 4 t ha(-1) and 2 and 8 t ha(-1), respectively, and applied at sowing. The experiment also used a non-fertilized control. Field trials were arranged in a completely randomized design with three replicates. The treatments that received high rates of guano tended to show significantly higher fruit yields (>10 t ha(-1) as the two-year average) in comparison with the control, which showed the lowest average okra fruit yield (6.21 t ha(-1)). In the guano treatments, the apparent recovery by okra of some important nutrients, such as N, was greater than the amount of the nutrient contained in the guano itself. This result, together with many others related to the tissue nutrient concentration, soil properties and residual fertilizing value in guano plots, indicated a strong mineralization of guano during the growing season. This was probably due to its low C/N ratio and favourable environmental conditions for the mineralization process. The result also suggests some kind of manuring effect, i.e., a fertilizing effect of guano beyond what can be explained by the nutrient supply. The use of biochar increased the total organic C in the soil and cation exchange capacity (CEC) compared with the control but did not affect the variables related to plant performance. Overall, the results showed that farmers can benefit from the use of guano in the short term because it releases nutrients, while with the use of biochar, the benefits can arise in the long term by improving the soil properties.

publication date

  • June 2023