Sustainable agronomic practices are being implemented worldwide to promote the cleaner and planet friendly crop production. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated the effect of agro-waste derived biochar and vermicompost on soil quality and yield in Cicer arietinum L. Field experiment was carried out at three different agro-climatic regions (Varanasi, Sultanpur and Gorakhpur) of Uttar Pradesh, India and periodic soil and crop sampling were done accordingly. Experimental results proven that a significant increase (p < 0.01) in total organic carbon, available N, P and K content was observed under vermicompost followed by biochar amendment at each site. Similarly, irrespective of the experimental site, a significant increase (p < 0.01) in microbial biomass carbon was recorded under vermicompost amendment. Furthermore, the addition of vermicompost increased the grain yield (28-39%) than biochar (23-36%) addition whereas the higher microbial and soil respiration (2-6%) found in former field than the biochar added field (1-3%). Significant correlation (R2= 0.61-0.99) was found between the sustainable yield index and soil fertility factors at each site. Assessment of agricultural soil sustainability indicators (ASSI) suggests that the biochar was more effective in enhancing the soil carbon stock (21 ± 1.31 Mg C ha-1) and higher glomalin activity (62%). The study also confirmed the increased alkaline phosphatase (two fold) and β-glucosidase activity (one fold) along with enhanced urease (45%), soil dehydrogenase activity (36%) under vermicompost amendment followed by biochar. Present study highlights the significance of sustainable agronomic practices for improving the soil quality and agricultural yield while reducing adverse impact.
Keywords: Agricultural soil sustainability indicators; Biochar; Sustainable agriculture; Sustainable yield index; Vermicompost.
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