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The role of biochar in retaining nutrients in amended tropical soils

TitleThe role of biochar in retaining nutrients in amended tropical soils
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsAlling, Vanja, Hale Sarah E., Martinsen Vegard, Mulder Jan, Smebye Andreas, Breedveld Gijs D., and Cornelissen Gerard
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Pagination671 - 680
Date Published10/2014

This study investigated the effect of biochar amendments on the retention and availability of plant nutrients and Al in seven acidic tropical soils from Zambia and Indonesia. The experiments carried out investigated whether the adsorption capacity of NH in the soils increased upon the addition of biochar and which effect biochar had on available concentrations of NO, K+, Mn2+, Mg2+ , PO, and Al3+. These nutrients were selected as they represent those important to plant growth and soil quality. No significant increases or decreases in aqueous NH-N concentration with additions of biochar were detected. The Gaines–Thomas model was used in order to calculate selectivity coefficients for NH exchange (Kgt values). Following the addition of biochar to soil, Kgt values decreased showing a reduction in the selective binding of NH in the biochar amended soil compared to the control. The concentration of NO increased following the addition of biochar to the soils. The addition of 5 and 10 % biochar to the Indonesian soil did not significantly alter (t-test confidence level 0.05) the sorption of PO to the soil–biochar mixtures as compared to the soil alone. However, the addition of biochar to the soil from Zambia increased the sorption of PO compared to the soil alone. The concentrations of K+ and Mg2+ were significantly increased for almost all soils (t-test at the 0.05 confidence level) following the addition of biochar. Addition of biochar to all but two soils significantly decreased (t-test confidence level 0.05) Mn2+ concentrations. The concentration of Al3+ in the soils decreased exponentially significantly (t-test confidence level 0.05) following the amendment of biochar in accordance with the increase in pH observed when biochar was added to the soil. These results show that biochar has the ability to release essential plant growth nutrients as well as alleviate Al toxicity in these soils.

Short TitleJ. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci.