Special Issue "Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Soil and Plant Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Miguel Ángel Sánchez-Monedero
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
CSIC-CEBAS, Department of Soil and Water Conservation and Organic Waste Management, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, 30100 Murcia, Spain
Interests: soil organic matter; organic waste recycling; composting; biochar; greenhouse gases
Dr. Claudio Mondini
Website
Guest Editor
Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria (CREA), Centro di ricerca Viticoltura ed Enologia, sede di Gorizia, 34170 Gorizia, Italy
Interests: agronomic and environmental evaluation of amendments; GHG emissions of organic residues; SOC modelling of amended soil; soil biochemistry; relationship between soil fertility and crop quality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The combination of biochar with inorganic and organic amendments has attracted the attention of the scientific community due to the agronomic benefits associated with the interaction of biochar with soil nutrient and organic carbon cycling. An interesting example of this interaction are the synergies that biochar may have with the composting process. The use of biochar as an additive in organic waste composting presents several benefits to the process in terms of enhanced organic matter degradation and humification and reduction of N losses and greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, biochar itself undergoes an intense oxidation leading to changes on its surface chemistry that enhances its interaction with nutrients and soluble organic matter. However, there is still limited information on the agronomic and environmental benefits and the constraints of using organic amendments combined with biochars compared to the amendments alone.

In this Special Issue we are open to contributions (research papers and a reduced number of reviews) exploring the interaction of biochar with organic matter and nutrients during organic waste transformation (composting, anaerobic digestion, etc.) and also its use in combination with mineral or organic fertilisers or as a component of soil-less growing media. Laboratory or field scale experiments assessing either the preparation of these new organic amendments or their use in agriculture (considering aspects such as plant-soil interactions, soil fertility, nutrient use efficiency, C sequestration potential, crop yield, plant health, fate of pollutants, GHG emissions, etc.) are welcome.

Dr. Miguel Ángel Sanchez-Monedero
Dr. Claudio Mondini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • soil fertlity
  • humification
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • nitrogen losses
  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • maturation and stability indices
  • nutrient availability
  • nutrient retention

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Enhancing Cation Exchange Capacity of Weathered Soils Using Biochar: Feedstock, Pyrolysis Conditions and Addition Rate
Agronomy 2020, 10(6), 824; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060824 - 11 Jun 2020
Abstract
The addition of alkaline and high-cation exchange capacity (CEC) biochars is a suitable strategy to increase the CEC of weathered soils. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of biochar from different feedstocks and pyrolysis temperatures on the CEC of [...] Read more.
The addition of alkaline and high-cation exchange capacity (CEC) biochars is a suitable strategy to increase the CEC of weathered soils. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of biochar from different feedstocks and pyrolysis temperatures on the CEC of two contrasting Oxisols. Biochars produced from chicken manure (CM), eucalyptus sawdust (ES), coffee husk (CH) and sugarcane bagasse (SB),plus a control (without biochar), at 350, 450, and 750 °C were mixed with the soils at 2; 5; 10 and 20% (w/w) and incubated for 9 months. Feedstock, pyrolysis temperature and addition rate of biochar were key factors controlling the alteration of soil CEC. The CH biochar pyrolyzed at 350 °C was the most effective matrix at increasing soil CEC. In a rate-dependent way, ES and SB biochars increased C contents of both soils without improving soil CEC. The efficiency of high-ash biochars in enhancing soil CEC in both Oxisols was limited by the alkalization caused by high rates of CH and CM biochars. The increase in CEC is soil-dependent and modulated by high-ash biochar CEC and application rate, as well as by the original soil CEC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessArticle
Nitrogen Availability in Biochar-Amended Soils with Excessive Compost Application
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030444 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Adding biochar to excessive compost amendments may affect compost mineralization rate and nitrogen (N) availability. The objective of this 371-day incubation study was to evaluate the effects of four proportions of woody biochar (0%, 0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.0%) from lead tree (Leucaena [...] Read more.
Adding biochar to excessive compost amendments may affect compost mineralization rate and nitrogen (N) availability. The objective of this 371-day incubation study was to evaluate the effects of four proportions of woody biochar (0%, 0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.0%) from lead tree (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de. Wit) biochar produced at 750 °C through dynamic mineral N and N mineralization rates in three rural soils (one Oxisol and two Inceptisols). In each treatment, 5% poultry–livestock manure compost was added to serve as an excessive application. The results indicated that the biochar decreased available total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) (NO3-N+NH4+-N) by on average 6%, 9% and 19% for 0.5%, 1.0% and 2.0% treatments, respectively. The soil type strongly influenced the impact of the biochar addition on the soil nitrogen mineralization potential, especially the soil pH and clay content. This study showed that the co-application of biochar and excessive compost benefited the agricultural soils by improving NO3-N retention in agroecosystems. The application of biochar to these soils to combine it with excessive compost appeared to be an effective method of utilizing these soil amendments, as it diminished the net N mineralization potential and reduced the nitrate loss of the excessive added compost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessArticle
Biochar Improves the Properties of Poultry Manure Compost as Growing Media for Rosemary Production
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020261 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Compost represents a sustainable alternative for peat (P) replacement in soilless plant cultivation, but its use can be limited by several inadequate physical and physicochemical properties. Biochar can alleviate some of the limitations of compost for its use as growth media by improving [...] Read more.
Compost represents a sustainable alternative for peat (P) replacement in soilless plant cultivation, but its use can be limited by several inadequate physical and physicochemical properties. Biochar can alleviate some of the limitations of compost for its use as growth media by improving the physical properties, decreasing salinity and making the phytotoxic compounds unavailable for plants. We studied the physical and physicochemical properties of holm oak biochar (B), poultry manure compost (PMC), poultry manure composted with biochar (PMBC), a commercial peat (P) and multiple combinations of these materials as growth media, and their effect on the rooting and growth of rosemary. PMBC and PMC showed similar physical and physicochemical properties as growing media, and they both were phytotoxic when used in a rate above 50% (by volume) in the growing medium. However, when used at proportion of 25%, PMBC was less phytotoxic than PMC and enhanced the percentage of rosemary cutting rooting. The incorporation of B in the growing medium instead of P (either at 50% or 75% in volume) increased the stability of the growing media and the percentage of rooted cuttings, but it did not affect plant growth significantly. Our results demonstrate the potential of substituting peat by a combination of poultry manure compost and biochar for the formulation of growth media. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessArticle
Suitability of Biochar and Biomass Ash in Basket Willow (Salix Viminalis L.) Cultivation
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100577 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The article presents the findings of a field experiment investigating the effectiveness of biochar and plant biomass ash when used as a soil fertiliser in the cultivation of basket willow (Salix viminalis L.). The purpose of the study was to determine the [...] Read more.
The article presents the findings of a field experiment investigating the effectiveness of biochar and plant biomass ash when used as a soil fertiliser in the cultivation of basket willow (Salix viminalis L.). The purpose of the study was to determine the optimal dose of fertiliser to enable a maximum increase in the crop yield and enhancement of the chemical properties of the soil. In the course of the two-year experiment, the increase in basket willow yield was in the range of 6%–49%. The highest dry matter yield from the plants, at the end of both the first and the second year of the experiment, was obtained in the plots where the soil was amended with biochar alone (11.5 t ha−1), a combination of biochar and ash (respectively 11.5 and 1.5 t ha−1) and ash added at the rate of 1.5 t ha−1. The yield was reduced when the soil was amended with ash added at the rates of 3.0 t ha−1 and 4.5 t ha−1 or with the latter doses of ash combined with biochar. The results indicated that too high a concentration of ash (rate of 3.0 t ha−1 or higher for basket willow) have negative effects on plant growth and may represent a limiting factor. The study suggests that biochar is a better soil amendment than ash, because biochar application gave the highest improvement in the soil properties and plant growth. It was found that the addition of biochar, biomass ash or combinations of the two materials applied in suitable doses may be a good soil amendment.. In particular in soils which are severely damaged and require restoration, this fertilization may have a noticeable effect on soil properties and plant growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Biochar on Physicochemical Properties of Haplic Luvisol Soil under Different Land Use: A Plot Experiment
Agronomy 2019, 9(9), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9090531 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
There is limited information regarding the effect of biochar (BioC) on improving the fertility of degraded soils (fallow and grassland), particularly with respect to changes with time. The objective of the study was to evaluate, in a three-year field experiment, the influence of [...] Read more.
There is limited information regarding the effect of biochar (BioC) on improving the fertility of degraded soils (fallow and grassland), particularly with respect to changes with time. The objective of the study was to evaluate, in a three-year field experiment, the influence of BioC on the physicochemical properties of Haplic Luvisol. BioC, obtained via wood waste pyrolysis at 650 °C, was applied to the soil of subplots under fallow and grassland at rates of 0, 1, 2, and 3 kg·m−2. Soil samples were collected eight times, from 2013 to 2015. Physicochemical characterization was performed for soil and BioC by analyzing density, pH, surface charge, as well as ash and organic carbon content. BioC’s influence on the physicochemical properties of degraded soils was determined by analyzing the changes in pH, specific surface area, radius, and volume of the micropore. The addition of BioC affected analyzed soils to varying degrees. In the case of the fallow, a positive effect on changes in these parameters was observed, particularly at the highest biochar dose and for the last year of the experiment. However, for the grassland, in most cases we observed the opposite trend—for example, pH and specific surface area values decreased with increasing biochar dose. We believe that it is necessary to examine how BioC affects sorption properties of organic matter of fallow and grassland soils, as well as the BioC’s influence on humic acids of these soils as a function on BioC dose and function of time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessArticle
Biochar or Biochar-Compost Amendment to a Peat-Based Substrate Improves Growth of Syngonium podophyllum
Agronomy 2019, 9(8), 460; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9080460 - 16 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Increasing demand for sustainable and low-cost alternatives to peat is a challenge in the production of container-grown plants. Biochar (BC) and compost, as eco-friendly materials, could be used to completely or partially substitute for peat. However, information regarding plant responses to the substitution [...] Read more.
Increasing demand for sustainable and low-cost alternatives to peat is a challenge in the production of container-grown plants. Biochar (BC) and compost, as eco-friendly materials, could be used to completely or partially substitute for peat. However, information regarding plant responses to the substitution is limited. This study evaluated effects of the amendment of a BC or a BC-compost mixture (BioComp) to a peat-based substrate at 20% by volume on the growth of Syngonium podophyllum. BC was pyrolyzed from wheat straw at 350 °C. Compost was made from farm green waste. BC or BioComp amendment elevated the pH and electrical conductivity of formulated substrates and improved plant growth. Concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and chlorophyll in leaves and the net photosynthetic rate of plants grown in BC or BioComp amended substrates were significantly higher than those grown in the control substrate. Total soluble protein and total phenolic contents were greater in plants grown in BC- or BioComp-amended substrates as well, but no significant difference occurred in reactive oxygen-related enzymatic activities, reducing power or proline contents across substrates. Our results show that BC or BioComp can be used to replace 20% of peat by volume, and such replacement enhanced S. podophyllum growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Efficiency of a Low Dose of Biochar in Enhancing the Aromaticity of Humic-Like Substance Extracted from Poultry Manure Compost
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050248 - 18 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Using biochar as a bulking agent in composting is gradually becoming popular for the minimization of nitrogen losses during the process and the improvement in compost quality. While a wide range of different biochar doses is applied, not much clear information was available [...] Read more.
Using biochar as a bulking agent in composting is gradually becoming popular for the minimization of nitrogen losses during the process and the improvement in compost quality. While a wide range of different biochar doses is applied, not much clear information was available about the optimum ratio. This study presents the impact of adding a low dose (2% v/v) of slow-pyrolysis oak biochar (Quercus serrate Murray), into poultry manure on the recalcitrant characteristic of humified organic matter. The influence in the chemical composition of humic-like substance was evaluated in poultry manure compost prepared with (PM+B) and without biochar (PM). The shift to slightly more stable chemical composition was shown in humic acid-like (HA) and fulvic acid-like (FA) extracted from PM+B compost, by increasing the proportion of aromatic carbon groups and thermal stability measured by thermogravimetry. We conclude that the addition of 2% biochar moderately enhances the recalcitrance of humified organic carbon and this could be feasible for the implementation of the biochar use in composting since only a small amount is required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessCase Report
Comparative Assessment of Biochar Stability Using Multiple Indicators
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050254 - 21 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Biochar application is one strategy proposed to improve carbon sequestration in soil. Maintaining high carbon content in soil for a long period requires stable biochar. In this work, we assessed biochar stability by two methodologies, i.e., laboratory incubation and chemical oxidation. Biochar was [...] Read more.
Biochar application is one strategy proposed to improve carbon sequestration in soil. Maintaining high carbon content in soil for a long period requires stable biochar. In this work, we assessed biochar stability by two methodologies, i.e., laboratory incubation and chemical oxidation. Biochar was produced at four different temperatures (400 °C, 500 °C, 600 °C, and 800 °C) from rice (Oryza sativa L.) straw and husk, applewood branch (Malus pumila), and oak (Quercus serrata Murray) residues. Results showed that the high-temperature biochars were more stable in both abiotic and biotic incubations, whereas the low-temperature biochars had reduced longevity. In addition, we showed biochars originated from woody material have higher stable carbon than those produced from rice residues. Finally, the oxidative assessment method provided a more reliable estimation of stability than the biotic incubation method and showed a strong correlation with other stability indicators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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Open AccessProject Report
Agronomic Evaluation of Biochar, Compost and Biochar-Blended Compost across Different Cropping Systems: Perspective from the European Project FERTIPLUS
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050225 - 04 May 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
This paper reports the results on the agronomic performance of organic amendments in the EU 7th FP project “FERTIPLUS—reducing mineral fertilizers and agro-chemicals by recycling treated organic waste as compost and bio-char”. Four case studies on field-scale application of biochar, compost and biochar-blended [...] Read more.
This paper reports the results on the agronomic performance of organic amendments in the EU 7th FP project “FERTIPLUS—reducing mineral fertilizers and agro-chemicals by recycling treated organic waste as compost and bio-char”. Four case studies on field-scale application of biochar, compost and biochar-blended compost were established and studied for three consecutive years in four distinct cropping systems and under different agro-climatic conditions in Europe. These included the following sites: olive groves in Murcia (Spain), greenhouse grown tomatoes in Almeria (Spain), an arable crop rotation in Oost-Vlaanderen (Merelbeke, Belgium), and three vineyards in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy). A slow pyrolysis oak biochar was applied, either alone or in combination with organic residues: compost from olive wastes in Murcia (Spain), sheep manure in Almeria (Spain), and compost from biowaste and green waste in Belgium and Italy. The agronomical benefits were evaluated based on different aspects of soil fertility (soil total organic carbon (TOC), pH, nutrient cycling and microbial activity) and crop nutritional status and productivity. All amendments were effective in increasing soil organic C in all the field trials. On average, the increase with respect to the control was about 11% for compost, 20% for biochar-blended compost, and 36% for biochar. The amendments also raised the pH by 0.15–0.50 units in acidic soils. Only biochar had a negligible fertilization effect. On the contrary, compost and biochar-blended compost were effective in enhancing soil fertility by increasing nutrient cycling (25% mean increase in extractable organic C and 44% increase in extractable N), element availability (26% increase in available K), and soil microbial activity (26% increase in soil respiration and 2–4 fold enhancement of denitrifying activity). In general, the tested amendments did not show any negative effect on crop yield and quality. Furthermore, in vineyards and greenhouse grown tomatoes cropping systems, compost and biochar-blended compost were also effective in enhancing key crop quality parameters (9% increase in grape must acidity and 16% increase in weight, 9% increase in diameter and 8% increase in hardness of tomato fruits) important for the quality and marketability of the crops. The overall results of the project suggest that the application of a mixture of biochar and compost can benefit crops. Therefore, biochar-blended compost can support and maintain soil fertility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interaction of Biochar on Organic Waste Composting)
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