The effects of biochar soil amendments on industrial hemp yields

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G340-21-W8613
Grant Recipient: Fifth World, LLC
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Tony De Veyra
Fifth World Llc


  • Agronomic: hemp, peas (field, cowpeas), vetches


  • Crop Production: application rate management, cover crops, cropping systems, no-till, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Energy: biofuel feedstocks
  • Pest Management: smother crops
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Biochar is a high-value soil amendment that is sustainably made from agricultural and forest management byproducts. When properly charged with nutrients and beneficial soil microbes, biochar has been demonstrated to improve both crop yield and yield quality. While also increasing soil nutrient cycling capacity, soil water holding capacity and soil organic matter. Increasing soil organic matter is critical to sequestering carbon dioxide to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gasses. Crop yield quality is critical in the cultivation of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) for cannabinoids, such as Cannabigerol (CBG) and Cannabidiol (CBD), and terpenes, which are both secondary metabolites produced in the glandular trichomes of the plant. Given this, we seek to explore the effects that different application rates of biochar may have on hemp production. As well as cover crops grown in the off-season.

    We will observe the effects of two different application rates of a 3:2 compost-biochar blend on crop yield and soil quality, as compared to a compost-only control plot. Two crops of hemp and one cover crop will be grown each year of the project. The project duration is two years, during which a total of four hemp crops and two cover crops will be observed. This duration will allow us to observe the immediate and longer term impacts of biochar. Our hypothesis is that biochar will have a net benefit on yield and soil quality and our goal is to observe if there is a plateau in soil benefits and/or diminishing marginal returns in yield increases.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Test the effects of biochar on soil quality and industrial hemp yield.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.