Effect of biochar amendment on sorption and leaching of nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate in a sandy soil.

Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, United States.
Chemosphere (Impact Factor: 3.14). 07/2012; 89(11):1467-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.06.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT When applied to soils, it is unclear whether and how biochar can affect soil nutrients. This has implications both to the availability of nutrients to plants or microbes, as well as to the question of whether biochar soil amendment may enhance or reduce the leaching of nutrients. In this work, a range of laboratory experiments were conducted to determine the effect of biochar amendment on sorption and leaching of nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate in a sandy soil. A total of thirteen biochars were tested in laboratory sorption experiments and most of them showed little/no ability to sorb nitrate or phosphate. However, nine biochars could remove ammonium from aqueous solution. Biochars made from Brazilian pepperwood and peanut hull at 600°C (PH600 and BP600, respectively) were used in a column leaching experiment to assess their ability to hold nutrients in a sandy soil. The BP600 biochar effectively reduced the total amount of nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate in the leachates by 34.0%, 34.7%, and 20.6%, respectively, relative to the soil alone. The PH600 biochar also reduced the leaching of nitrate and ammonium by 34% and 14%, respectively, but caused additional phosphate release from the soil columns. These results indicate that the effect of biochar on the leaching of agricultural nutrients in soils is not uniform and varies by biochar and nutrient type. Therefore, the nutrient sorption characteristics of a biochar should be studied prior to its use in a particular soil amendment project.

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    ABSTRACT: In Brazil, the degradation of nutrient-poor Ferralsols limits productivity and drives agricultural expansion into pristine areas. However, returning agricultural residues to the soil in a stabilized form may offer opportunities for maintaining or improving soil quality, even under conditions that typically promote carbon loss. We examined the use of biochar made from filtercake (a byproduct of sugarcane processing) on the physicochemical properties of a cultivated tropical soil. Filtercake was pyrolyzed at 575°C for 3 h yielding a biochar with increased surface area and porosity compared to the raw filtercake. Filtercake biochar was primarily composed of aromatic carbon, with some residual cellulose and hemicellulose. In a three-week laboratory incubation, CO2 effluxes from a highly weathered Ferralsol soil amended with 5% biochar (dry weight, d.w.) were roughly four-fold higher than the soil-only control, but 23-fold lower than CO2 effluxes from soil amended with 5% (d.w.) raw filtercake. We also applied vinasse, a carbon-rich liquid waste from bioethanol production typically utilized as a fertilizer on sugarcane soils, to filtercake- and biochar-amended soils. Total CO2 efflux from the biochar-amended soil in response to vinasse application was only 5% of the efflux when vinasse was applied to soil amended with raw filtercake. Furthermore, mixtures of 5 or 10% biochar (d.w.) in this highly weathered tropical soil significantly increased water retention within the plant-available range and also improved nutrient availability. Accordingly, application of sugarcane filtercake as biochar, with or without vinasse application, may better satisfy soil management objectives than filtercake applied to soils in its raw form, and may help to build soil carbon stocks in sugarcane-cultivating regions.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(6):e98523. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Export Date: 13 May 2014, Source: Scopus
    Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 01/2014; 45(5):680-687. · 0.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: At present, there is limited understanding of how biochar application to soil could be beneficial to crop growth in temperate regions and which biochar types are most suitable. Biochar’s (two feedstocks: willow, pine; three pyrolysis temperatures: 450 °C, 550 °C, 650 °C) effect on nitrogen (N) availability, N use efficiency and crop yield was studied in northwestern European soils using a combined approach of process-based and agronomic experiments. Biochar labile carbon (C) fractions were determined and a phytotoxicity test, sorption experiment, N incubation experiment and two pot trials were conducted. Generally, biochar caused decreased soil NO3− availability and N use efficiency, and reduced biomass yields compared to a control soil. Soil NO3− concentrations were more reduced in the willow compared to the pine biochar treatments and the reduction increased with increasing pyrolysis temperatures, which was also reflected in the biomass yields. Woody biochar types can cause short-term reductions in biomass production due to reduced N availability. This effect is biochar feedstock and pyrolysis temperature dependent. Reduced mineral N availability was not caused by labile biochar C nor electrostatic NH4+/NO3− sorption. Hence, the addition of fresh biochar might in some cases require increased fertilizer N application to avoid short-term crop growth retardation.
    Agronomy. 02/2014; 4:52-73.


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