Special Issue "The Soil Biochar Loading Capacity—the Soil Is the Limit"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 May 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Simon Jeffery
Guest Editor
Harper Adams University, Dept Crop & Environm Sci, Newport TF10 8NB, Shrops, England
Dr. Frank Verheijen
Guest Editor
Department of Environment and Planning, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biochar has become highly popular as a soil amendment over the last decade. Its manifold claimed benefits range from enhancing crop yields to increasing soil water retention, combating climate change and mitigating the impacts of diseases. However, negative environmental and agronomic and ecological impacts have also been reported. Within the 4/1000 initiative, biochar may be one of a range of innovative technologies to increase the organic C saturation level of soils. However, where this organic C saturation level stands is not well known for different soil/climate combinations, nor is the application strategy that should be used to maximise opportunities if it can be reached sustainably.

There is a wide disparity in the application rates used for biochar application to soil in the literature. And there is increasing evidence that biochar impacts often show diminishing returns with increasing application rate, to the point of negative impacts at high rates. Repeated applications of small amounts may have different outcomes for the sustainable biochar loading capacity than one-off large applications.

Here, we aim to present a number of papers that explore the concept of the biochar loading capacity of soils to aid effective guidance of policy in this regard. We welcome manuscripts that explore how the biochar loading capacity can be determined in studies at various scales and methodologies, including experimental and modelling, conceptual and numerical.

Dr. Simon Jeffery
Dr. Frank Verheijen
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • biochar
  • soil functions
  • application rate
  • environmental impacts…

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Biochars Improve Nutrient Phyto-Availability of Hawai’i’s Highly Weathered Soils
Agronomy 2018, 8(10), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8100203 - 23 Sep 2018
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1377
Highly weathered soils in Hawai’i are low in fertility, negatively affecting plant growth. The potential of biochar for improving soil nutrient availability to crops is promising, and prompts this study. Two biochars at 2% (w/w) made of lac tree [...] Read more.
Highly weathered soils in Hawai’i are low in fertility, negatively affecting plant growth. The potential of biochar for improving soil nutrient availability to crops is promising, and prompts this study. Two biochars at 2% (w/w) made of lac tree (Schleichera oleosa (Lour.) Oken) wood and mixed wood (scrapped wood and tree trimmings) with and without vermicompost or thermocompost at 2% (w/w) were added to an Ultisol (Ustic Kanhaplohumult, Leilehua series) and an Oxisol (Rhodic haplustox, Wahiawa series) of Hawai’i. In each soil two additional treatments—lime + compost and un-amended soil—served as the control. Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa cv. Bonsai) was used as the test plant in two greenhouse plantings, which had a factorial completely randomized design with three replicates per treatment. The results indicated that soil acidity, nutrient in the soils, plant growth and nutrient uptake were improved by the amendments compared to the control. The combined additions of biochar and compost significantly increased pH and EC; reduced exchangeable Al; reduced Mn and Fe in the Oxisol; increased P, K, and Ca content of the soils; and increased Ca, Mg and Fe uptake. Exchangeable aluminum in the Ultisol decreased from 2.5 cmol+/kg to nil; Mehlich-3 extractable P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, and Mn in the Ultisol increased by 1478%, 2257%, 1457%, 258%, 125% and 72%, respectively compared to the un-amended soil, while the same nutrients increased or decreased in the Oxisol by 180%, 59%, 308%, −14%, and −36%, respectively. Shoot and total cabbage fresh and dry matters increased by 94%, 96%, 107%, and 112%, respectively, as compared to the lime plus compost treatment. Cabbage growth in the Ultisol amended with the lac tree wood biochar and vermicompost was almost twice over the lime and vermicompost treatment. Essential nutrients in the plant tissues, except for N and K, were sufficient for the cabbage growth, suggesting increases in nutrients and reduced soil acidity by the additions of biochar combined with compost were the probable cause. It is recommended that locally produced biochars and composts be used to improve plant nutrient availability in the highly weathered soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Soil Biochar Loading Capacity—the Soil Is the Limit)
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