The potential feasibility for soil improvement, based on the properties of biochars pyrolyzed from different feedstocks, J Soils Sediments (2013) 13:989–1000

PurposeBiochars have been considered as useful soil amendments due to their beneficial properties in improving soil fertility, carbon (C) sequestration, and soil decontamination. In our study, a series of biochars produced from different types of feedstocks at two pyrolysis temperatures (300 and 500 °C) were characterized to evaluate their different potentials as soil amendments.

Materials and methodsTen types of feedstocks were used to prepare biochars at the pyrolysis temperatures of 300 and 500 °C, for 2 h. Chemical and physical analyses, X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analyses were conducted to determine differences in biochar properties. Then, soil incubation studies were used to investigate the relationships between these biochar properties and their different ameliorant values in soil.

Results and discussionThe pH, ash, total C, total potassium, total phosphorus, total base cation concentrations, surface areas, and total pore volumes of biochars produced at 500 °C were higher than at 300 °C, while the reverse applied for yields, total oxygen and total hydrogen, and average pore widths and particle sizes. Cluster analysis suggested that biochars derived from similar feedstock types belonged in the same category. The SEM, XRD, and FTIR analyses of typical biochars from the different categories suggested both variations and similarities in their characteristics. In addition, the results from soil incubation experiments were consistent with the conclusions made from biochar characteristics analysis.

ConclusionsBiochars derived from swine manures, fruit peels, and leaves with high pH and macro-nutrients appeared appropriate to increase soil pH and soil nutrient availability; whereas, biochars from wetland plant residues with high C concentrations and BrunauerEmmettTeller were better for soil C sequestration and contaminant adsorption.

DOI 10.1007/s11368-013-0698-y

Zhongmin Dai, Jun Meng, Niaz Muhammad, Xingmei Liu, Haizhen Wang, Yan He , Philip C. Brookes, Jianming Xu
College of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences, Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Subtropical Soil and Plant Nutrition, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058, China