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Open AccessReview

Role of Biochar in Improving Sandy Soil Water Retention and Resilience to Drought

School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5755, USA
School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5751, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5711, USA
USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI 53726, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Guido D’Urso and Wayne O’Connor
Water 2021, 13(4), 407;
Received: 13 December 2020 / Revised: 17 January 2021 / Accepted: 29 January 2021 / Published: 4 February 2021
In recent years, plants in sandy soils have been impacted by increased climate variability due to weak water holding and temperature buffering capacities of the parent material. The projected impact spreads all over the world, including New England, USA. Many regions of the world may experience an increase in frequency and severity of drought, which can be attributed to an increased variability in precipitation and enhanced water loss due to warming. The overall benefits of biochar in environmental management have been extensively investigated. This review aims to discuss the water holding capacity of biochar from the points of view of fluid mechanics and propose several prioritized future research topics. To understand the impacts of biochar on sandy soils in-depth, sandy soil properties (surface area, pore size, water properties, and characteristics) and how biochar could improve the soil quality as well as plant growth, development, and yield are reviewed. Incorporating biochar into sandy soils could result in a net increase in the surface area, a stronger hydrophobicity at a lower temperature, and an increase in the micropores to maximize gap spaces. The capability of biochar in reducing fertilizer drainage through increasing water retention can improve crop productivity and reduce the nutrient leaching rate in agricultural practices. To advance research in biochar products and address the impacts of increasing climate variability, future research may focus on the role of biochar in enhancing soil water retention, plant water use efficiency, crop resistance to drought, and crop productivity. View Full-Text
Keywords: biochar; drought; porosity; sandy soil; water retention biochar; drought; porosity; sandy soil; water retention
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MDPI and ACS Style

Li, L.; Zhang, Y.-J.; Novak, A.; Yang, Y.; Wang, J. Role of Biochar in Improving Sandy Soil Water Retention and Resilience to Drought. Water 2021, 13, 407.

AMA Style

Li L, Zhang Y-J, Novak A, Yang Y, Wang J. Role of Biochar in Improving Sandy Soil Water Retention and Resilience to Drought. Water. 2021; 13(4):407.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Li, Ling; Zhang, Yong-Jiang; Novak, Abigayl; Yang, Yingchao; Wang, Jinwu. 2021. "Role of Biochar in Improving Sandy Soil Water Retention and Resilience to Drought" Water 13, no. 4: 407.

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