Advances in Biochar Applications for Agricultural and Forest Ecosystems

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant–Soil Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 30624

Special Issue Editors

College of Forestry, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China
Interests: nitrogen cycling in soil and its environmental effects; biochar application in agricultural and forestry ecosystems; the eco-benefits of soil and water conservation engineering
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3B3, Canada
Interests: biochar; physiology; cannabis; pyrogenic carbon; plant ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues:

Biochar, a nutrient-rich material produced from biomass, has received attention for its soil improvement, increased crop yield, and carbon sequestration properties. In recent years, the use of biochar in agricultural production has increased proportionally. Many researches have shown that the application of biochar can enhance soil fertility, promote soil’s microbial activity, reduce bulk density, and improve soil’s nutrients and water holding capacity. In addition, biochar amendments can increase the availability of nutrients in different types of soils and enhance plant biomass.

This Special Issue aims to collect articles focusing on the following topics:

  • Improved biochar production methods to reuse agricultural and forest residues;
  • The roles of biochar and biochar-based fertilizers in improving soil properties and promoting the nutrient uptake of plants;
  • Biochar and climate change;
  • Biochar and soil carbon and nitrogen transformation.

We hope this Special Issue will promote a broad understanding of the sustianable application of biochar in agricultural and forest ecosystems.

Dr. Haijun Sun
Dr. Nigel V. Gale
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • biochar
  • plant production
  • climate change
  • soil carbon

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 2719 KiB  
Article
Effects of Biochar and Straw Amendment on Soil Fertility and Microbial Communities in Paddy Soils
by Hao Xia, Jia Shen, Muhammad Riaz, Cuncang Jiang, Chaolong Zu, Chaoqiang Jiang and Bo Liu
Plants 2024, 13(11), 1478; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13111478 - 27 May 2024
Viewed by 398
Abstract
Straw and biochar, two commonly used soil amendments, have been shown to enhance soil fertility and the composition of microbial communities. To compare the effects of straw and biochar on soil fertility, particularly focusing on soil dissolved organic matter (DOM) components, and the [...] Read more.
Straw and biochar, two commonly used soil amendments, have been shown to enhance soil fertility and the composition of microbial communities. To compare the effects of straw and biochar on soil fertility, particularly focusing on soil dissolved organic matter (DOM) components, and the physiochemical properties of soil and microbial communities, a combination of high-throughput sequencing and three-dimensional fluorescence mapping technology was employed. In our study, we set up four treatments, i.e., without biochar and straw (B0S0); biochar only (B1S0); straw returning only (B0S1); and biochar and straw (B1S1). Our results demonstrate that soil organic matter (SOM), available nitrogen (AN), and available potassium (AK) were increased by 34.71%, 22.96%, and 61.68%, respectively, under the B1S1 treatment compared to the B0S0 treatment. In addition, microbial carbon (MBC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and particulate organic carbon (POC) were significantly increased with the B1S1 treatment, by 55.13%, 15.59%, and 125.46%, respectively. The results also show an enhancement in microbial diversity, the composition of microbial communities, and the degree of soil humification with the application of biochar and straw. Moreover, by comparing the differences in soil fertility, DOM components, and other indicators under different treatments, the combined treatments of biochar and straw had a more significant positive impact on paddy soil fertility compared to biochar. In conclusion, our study revealed the combination of straw incorporation and biochar application has significant impacts and is considered an effective approach to improving soil fertility. Full article
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25 pages, 1173 KiB  
Article
Dairy Effluent-Saturated Biochar’s Short-Term Effects on Vigna unguiculata and Cynodon dactylon Performance and Soil Properties
by Lisandro J. Entio, Cosette B. Taggart, James P. Muir, Eunsung Kan, Jeff A. Brady and Olabiyi Obayomi
Plants 2024, 13(6), 851; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13060851 - 15 Mar 2024
Viewed by 700
Abstract
We compared the effects of wood-, manure-, and blend-derived biochar (BC) saturated/unsaturated with dairy effluents on Vigna unguiculata and Cynodon dactylon performance and soil characteristics in a greenhouse pot study. Plant samples were assayed for herbage and root dry weight and N and [...] Read more.
We compared the effects of wood-, manure-, and blend-derived biochar (BC) saturated/unsaturated with dairy effluents on Vigna unguiculata and Cynodon dactylon performance and soil characteristics in a greenhouse pot study. Plant samples were assayed for herbage and root dry weight and N and C percentages. Soil samples were assayed for nutrients, pH, and conductivity. Variance analysis, Tukey’s tests, Pearson’s correlations, and multiple regression analysis were performed. The performance of C. dactylon was not affected. V. unguiculata’s herbage and root production responded negatively to manure BC and 2% of any BC, respectively, which is mainly explained by the conductivity and soil P increase, respectively. When V. unguiculata was grown, BC inclusion decreased NO3-N and increased the soil P content. When C. dactylon was grown, only P was altered (increased) when manure or the blend BC were applied. The soil total C increased as the BC loading rate increased. The application of high BC rates was detrimental for V. unguiculata, but showed a neutral effect for C. dactylon. To improve dairy waste recycling, saturated 1% blend BC and saturated 2% blend or manure BC could be applied to V. unguiculata and C. dactylon, respectively, with no short-term negative impacts. Only wood BC avoided soil P build-up. BC application increased the soil total C, showing potential for C sequestration. Full article
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17 pages, 4062 KiB  
Article
Interactive Effects of Microbial Fertilizer and Soil Salinity on the Hydraulic Properties of Salt-Affected Soil
by Xu Yang, Ke Zhang, Tingting Chang, Hiba Shaghaleh, Zhiming Qi, Jie Zhang, Huan Ye and Yousef Alhaj Hamoud
Plants 2024, 13(4), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13040473 - 7 Feb 2024
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1336
Abstract
Significant research has been conducted on the effects of fertilizers or agents on the sustainable development of agriculture in salinization areas. By contrast, limited consideration has been given to the interactive effects of microbial fertilizer (MF) and salinity on hydraulic properties in secondary [...] Read more.
Significant research has been conducted on the effects of fertilizers or agents on the sustainable development of agriculture in salinization areas. By contrast, limited consideration has been given to the interactive effects of microbial fertilizer (MF) and salinity on hydraulic properties in secondary salinization soil (SS) and coastal saline soil (CS). An incubation experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of saline soil types, salinity levels (non-saline, low-salinity, and high-salinity soils), and MF amounts (32.89 g kg−1 and 0 g kg−1) on soil hydraulic properties. Applied MF improved soil water holding capacity in each saline soil compared with that in CK, and SS was higher than CS. Applied MF increased saturated moisture, field capacity, capillary fracture moisture, the wilting coefficient, and the hygroscopic coefficient by 0.02–18.91% in SS, while it was increased by 11.62–181.88% in CS. It increased soil water supply capacity in SS (except for high-salinity soil) and CS by 0.02–14.53% and 0.04–2.34%, respectively, compared with that in CK. Soil available, readily available, and unavailable water were positively correlated with MF, while soil gravity and readily available and unavailable water were positively correlated with salinity in SS. Therefore, a potential fertilization program with MF should be developed to increase hydraulic properties or mitigate the adverse effects of salinity on plants in similar SS or CS areas. Full article
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20 pages, 3308 KiB  
Article
Using the Conditional Process Analysis Model to Characterize the Evolution of Carbon Structure in Taxodium ascendens Biochar with Varied Pyrolysis Temperature and Holding Time
by Shuai Zhang, Xiangdong Jia, Xia Wang, Jianyu Chen, Can Cheng, Xichuan Jia and Haibo Hu
Plants 2024, 13(3), 460; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13030460 - 5 Feb 2024
Viewed by 910
Abstract
Temperature determines biochar structure during pyrolysis. However, differences in holding time and feedstock types may affect this relationship. The conditional process analysis model was used in this paper to investigate the potential to affect this mechanism. The branch and leaf parts of Taxodium [...] Read more.
Temperature determines biochar structure during pyrolysis. However, differences in holding time and feedstock types may affect this relationship. The conditional process analysis model was used in this paper to investigate the potential to affect this mechanism. The branch and leaf parts of Taxodium ascendens were separately pyrolyzed at 350, 450, 650, and 750 °C, and kept for 0.5, 1, and 2 h at each target temperature. We measured the fixed carbon and ash contents and the elemental composition (C, H, O and N) of the raw materials and their char samples. After plotting a Van Krevelen (VK) diagram to determine the aromatization of chars, the changes in the functional groups were analyzed using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), Raman, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The results revealed that pyrolysis at temperatures between 450 and 750 °C accounted for the aromatization of biochar because the atomic H/C ratio of branch-based chars (BC) decreased from 0.53–0.59 to 0.15–0.18, and the ratio of leaf-based chars (LC) decreased from 0.56–0.68 to 0.20–0.22; the atomic O/C ratio of BC decreased from 0.22–0.27 to 0.08–0.11, while that of LC decreased from 0.26–0.28 to 0.18–0.21. Moreover, the average contents of N (1.89%) and ash (13%) in LC were evidently greater than that in BC (N:0.62%; Ash: 4%). Therefore, BC was superior to LC in terms of the stability of biochar. In addition, the increasing ID/IG and ID/I(DR+GL) ratios in BC and LC indicated an increasing amount of the amorphous aromatic carbon structure with medium-sized (2~6 rings) fused benzene rings. According to the CPA analysis, an extension of the holding time significantly enhanced the increase in aromatic structures of LC with temperature. But this extension slightly reduced the growth in aromatic structures of BC. All indicate that holding time and feedstock types (branch or leaf feedstock) could significantly affect the variation in biochar aromatic structure with respect to temperature. Full article
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17 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Biochar and Dairy Manure Amendment Effects on Cynodon dactylon Performance and Soil Properties
by Lisandro J. Entio, Cosette B. Taggart, James P. Muir, Eunsung Kan, Jeff A. Brady and Olabiyi Obayomi
Plants 2024, 13(2), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13020242 - 15 Jan 2024
Viewed by 964
Abstract
Studies have determined the separate effects of biochar (BC) and manure application on forage species and soil, but few examined the effects of BCs made from different feedstock applied along with dairy manure. We compared the effect of wood- and manure-derived feedstock BC [...] Read more.
Studies have determined the separate effects of biochar (BC) and manure application on forage species and soil, but few examined the effects of BCs made from different feedstock applied along with dairy manure. We compared the effect of wood- and manure-derived feedstock BC as well as dairy manure amendment application on Cynodon dactylon performance and soil properties in sandy loam and clay loam soils in a greenhouse pot study. Plant samples were assayed for herbage and root dry weight as well as herbage and root N and C percent and yield. Soil samples were assayed for macronutrients, micronutrients, metals, pH and conductivity. Data analyses involved variance analysis and Tukey’s tests using R in RStudio (the IDE). In general, C. dactylon yields or mineral content were not affected by either manure or BC. However, an increase in the total herbage dry weight (30%) and in herbage N% (55%) was observed for clay loam and sandy loam soil, respectively, due to manure amendment application. There were no alterations in clay loam NO3-N and P due to any treatment; however, in sandy loam, these nutrients were not altered only when wood BC was applied. In sandy loam soil, NO3-N and P increased when manure BC along with dairy manure and when manure BC alone were applied, respectively. Thus, wood BC application should be considered to avoid these nutrient buildups when dairy manure is used as a soil amendment. This research shows a neutral (BC) or positive (dairy manure amendment) impact on C. dactylon performance. BC incorporation increases soil total C, showing potential for C sequestration. Long-term field trials could corroborate plant performance and soil parameters. Full article
23 pages, 2645 KiB  
Article
Mitigating Salinity Stress in Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) with Biochar and Superabsorber Polymer Amendments
by Imed Derbali, Walid Derbali, Jihed Gharred, Arafet Manaa, Inès Slama and Hans-Werner Koyro
Plants 2024, 13(1), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13010092 - 27 Dec 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1331
Abstract
In agriculture, soil amendments are applied to improve soil quality by increasing the water retention capacity and regulating the pH and ion exchange. Our study was carried out to investigate the impact of a commercial biochar (Bc) and a superabsorbent polymer (SAP) on [...] Read more.
In agriculture, soil amendments are applied to improve soil quality by increasing the water retention capacity and regulating the pH and ion exchange. Our study was carried out to investigate the impact of a commercial biochar (Bc) and a superabsorbent polymer (SAP) on the physiological and biochemical processes and the growth performance of Chenopodium quinoa (variety ICBA-5) when exposed to high salinity. Plants were grown for 25 days under controlled greenhouse conditions in pots filled with a soil mixture with or without 3% Bc or 0.2% SAP by volume before the initiation of 27 days of growth in hypersaline conditions, following the addition of 300 mM NaCl. Without the Bc or soil amendments, multiple negative effects of hypersalinity were detected on photosynthetic CO2 assimilation (Anet minus 70%) and on the production of fresh matter from the whole plant, leaves, stems and roots (respectively, 55, 46, 64 and 66%). Moreover, increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was indicated by higher levels of MDA (plus 142%), antioxidant activities and high proline levels (plus 311%). In the pots treated with 300 mM NaCl, the amendments Bc or SAP improved the plant growth parameters, including fresh matter production (by 10 and 17%), an increased chlorophyll content by 9 and 13% and Anet in plants (by 98 and 115%). Both amendments (Bc and SAP) resulted in significant salinity mitigation effects, decreasing proline and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels whilst increasing both the activity of enzymatic antioxidants and non-enzymatic antioxidants that reduce the levels of ROS. This study confirms how soil amendments can help to improve plant performance and expand the productive range into saline areas. Full article
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14 pages, 1407 KiB  
Article
Effects of Biochar Applied in Either Rice or Wheat Seasons on the Production and Quality of Wheat and Nutrient Status in Paddy Profiles
by Zirui Chen, Jiale Liu, Haijun Sun, Jincheng Xing, Zhenhua Zhang and Jiang Jiang
Plants 2023, 12(24), 4131; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12244131 - 11 Dec 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1290
Abstract
In a rice–wheat rotation system, biochar (BC) applied in different crop seasons undergoes contrast property changes in the soil. However, it is unclear how aged BC affects the production and quality of wheat and the nutrent status in a soil profile. In the [...] Read more.
In a rice–wheat rotation system, biochar (BC) applied in different crop seasons undergoes contrast property changes in the soil. However, it is unclear how aged BC affects the production and quality of wheat and the nutrent status in a soil profile. In the present soil column experiment, the effects of no nitrogen (N) fertilizer and BC addition (control), N fertilizer (N420) and BC (5 t ha−1) applied at rice [N420 + BC(R)], or wheat [N420 + BC(W)] seasons at a same rate of N fertilizer (420 kg ha−1 yr−1) on yield and quality of wheat as well as the nutrient contents of soil profiles (0–5, 5–10, 10–20, 20–30, 30–40, and 40–50 cm) were observed. The results showed that N420 + BC(W) significantly reduced NH4+-N content in 5–10 and 10–20 cm soils by 62.1% and 36.2%, respectively, compared with N420. In addition, N420 + BC(W) significantly reduced NO3-N contents by 17.8% and 40.4% in 0–5 and 20–30 cm profiles, respectively, but N420 + BC(R) slightly increased them. The BC applied in wheat season significantly increased the 0–5 and 40–50 cm soil total N contents (24.0% and 48.1%), and enhanced the 30–40 and 40–50 cm soil-available phosphorus contents (48.2 and 35.75%) as well as improved the 10–20 and 20–30 cm soil-available potassium content (38.1% and 57.5%). Overall, our results suggest that N420 + BC(W) had stronger improving effects on soil fertility than N420 + BC(R). Compared to N420, there was a significant 5.9% increase in wheat grain yield, but no change in total amino acids in wheat kernels in N420 + BC(W). Considering the responses of soil profile nutrient contents as well as wheat yield and quality to BC application in different crop seasons, it is more appropriate to apply BC in wheat season. Our results could provide a scientific basis for the ideal time to amend BC into the rice–wheat rotation system, in order to achieve more benefits of BC on crop production and soil fertility. Full article
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14 pages, 5545 KiB  
Article
Effects of Biochar on the Fluorescence Spectra of Water-Soluble Organic Matter in Black Soil Profile after Application for Six Years
by Liang Jin, Dan Wei, Yan Li, Guoyuan Zou, Lei Wang, Jianli Ding, Yitao Zhang, Lei Sun, Wei Wang, Xingzhu Ma, Huibo Shen, Yuxian Wang, Junqiang Wang, Xinrui Lu, Yu Sun, Xinying Ding, Dahao Li and Dawei Yin
Plants 2023, 12(4), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040831 - 13 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1622
Abstract
At present, extracting water-soluble organic matter (WSOM) from agricultural organic waste is primarily used to evaluate soil organic matter content in farmland. However, only a few studies have focused on its vertical behavior in the soil profile. This study aims to clarify the [...] Read more.
At present, extracting water-soluble organic matter (WSOM) from agricultural organic waste is primarily used to evaluate soil organic matter content in farmland. However, only a few studies have focused on its vertical behavior in the soil profile. This study aims to clarify the three-dimensional fluorescence spectrum characteristics of the WSOM samples in 0–60 cm black soil profile before and after different chemical fertilizer treatments after six years of fertilization. Fluorescence spectroscopy combined with fluorescence and ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopies are used to divide four different fertilization types: no fertilization (T0), nitrogen phosphorus potassium (NPK) (T1), biochar (T2), biochar + NPK (T3), and biochar + N (T4) in a typical black soil area. The vertical characteristics of WSOC are also analyzed. The results showed that after six years of nitrogen application, T2 had a significant effect on the fluorescence intensity of Zone II (decreasing by 9.6% in the 0–20 cm soil layer) and Zone V (increasing by 8.5% in the 0–20 cm soil layer). The fluorescent components identified in each treatment group include ultraviolet radiation A humic acid-like substances (C1), ultraviolet radiation C humic acid-like substances (C2), and tryptophan-like substance (C3). As compared with the land with T1, the content of C2 in the 20–60 cm soil layer with T2 was lower, while that of C2 in the surface and subsoil with T3 was higher. In addiiton, there were no significant differences in the contents of C1, C2, and C3 by comparing the soils applied with T3 and T4, respectively. The composition of soil WSOM was found to be significantly influenced by the addition of a mixture of biochar and chemical fertilizers. The addition of biochar alone exerted a positive effect on the humification process in the surface soil (0–10 cm). NPK treatment could stimulate biological activity by increasing biological index values in deeper soil layers (40–50 cm). Nitrogen is the sovereign factor that improves the synergism effect of chemical fertilizer and biochar during the humification process. According to the UV-Vis spectrum and optical index, soil WSOM originates from land and microorganisms. This study reveals the dynamics of WSOC in the 0–60 cm soil layer and the biogeochemical effect of BC fertilizer treatment on the agricultural soil ecosystem. Full article
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11 pages, 2012 KiB  
Article
After-Effects of Hydrochar Amendment on Water Spinach Production, N Leaching, and N2O Emission from a Vegetable Soil under Varying N-Inputs
by Haijun Sun, Ying Chen and Zhenghua Yi
Plants 2022, 11(24), 3444; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11243444 - 9 Dec 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1598
Abstract
Biochar use in agriculture brings significant agronomic and environmental co-benefits, which are a function of biochar and crop types and nitrogen (N) rates. We here conducted a soil column experiment to evaluate the after-effects of hydrochar amendment at 0.5 and 2.0 wt% on [...] Read more.
Biochar use in agriculture brings significant agronomic and environmental co-benefits, which are a function of biochar and crop types and nitrogen (N) rates. We here conducted a soil column experiment to evaluate the after-effects of hydrochar amendment at 0.5 and 2.0 wt% on vegetable production, N recovery and losses via leaching and nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from water-spinach (Ipomoea aquatica Forsk)-planted vegetable soil receiving three N inputs (120, 160, and 200 kg/ha). The results showed that hydrochar with 2.0 wt% significantly (p < 0.05) improved the biomass yield of water spinach, receiving 120–160 kg N/ha by 11.6–14.2%, compared with no change in the hydrochar treatment. Hydrochar had no effect on total N content of water spinach, and only increased the total N recovery under 2.0 wt% given hydrochar amended treatment with 120 kg N/ha. Neither pH or EC of leachate was changed with N reduction or hydrochar application. However, in some cases, hydrochar changes the NH4+, NO3 and total N concentrations in leachate. When applied at 2.0 wt%, hydrochar significantly (p < 0.05) increased total N leaching losses by 28.9% and 57.1%, under 120 and 160 kg N/ha plot, respectively. Hydrochar applied at two rates increased the N2O emissions by 109–133% under 200 kg N/ha but decreased them by 46–67% under 160 kg N/ha. Therefore, after three years of application, hydrochar still improves the production of leafy vegetable, but the impacts on N leaching and N2O emission vary, depending on inorganic N and hydrochar application rates. Full article
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17 pages, 2250 KiB  
Article
30-Month Pot Experiment: Biochar Alters Soil Potassium Forms, Soil Properties and Soil Fungal Diversity and Composition in Acidic Soil of Southern China
by Hao Xia, Bo Liu, Muhammad Riaz, Yuxuan Li, Xiangling Wang, Jiyuan Wang and Cuncang Jiang
Plants 2022, 11(24), 3442; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11243442 - 9 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2433
Abstract
Biochar has a significant impact on improving soil, nutrient supply, and soil microbial amounts. However, the impacts of biochar on soil fungi and the soil environment after 30 months of cultivation experiments are rarely reported. We studied the potential role of peanut shell [...] Read more.
Biochar has a significant impact on improving soil, nutrient supply, and soil microbial amounts. However, the impacts of biochar on soil fungi and the soil environment after 30 months of cultivation experiments are rarely reported. We studied the potential role of peanut shell biochar (0% and 2%) in the soil properties and the soil fungal communities after 30 months of biochar application under different soil potassium (K) levels (100%, 80%, 60%, 0% K fertilizer). We found that biochar had a promoting effect on soil K after 30 months of its application, such as the available K, water-soluble K, exchangeable K, and non-exchangeable K; and increments were 125.78%, 124.39%, 126.01%, and 26.63% under biochar and K fertilizer treatment, respectively, compared to control treatment. Our data revealed that p_Ascomycota and p_Basidiomycota were the dominant populations in the soil, and their sub-levels showed different relationships with the soil properties. The relationships between c_sordariomycetes and its sub-level taxa with soil properties showed a significant positive correlation. However, c_Dothideomycetes and its sub-group demonstrated a negative correlation with soil properties. Moreover, soil enzyme activity, especially related to the soil C cycle, was the most significant indicator that affected the community and structure of fungi through structural equation modeling (SEM) and redundancy analysis (RDA). This work emphasized that biochar plays an important role in improving soil quality, controlling soil nutrients, and regulating fungal diversity and community composition after 30 months of biochar application. Full article
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13 pages, 706 KiB  
Article
Effects of Wood-Derived Biochar on Germination, Physiology, and Growth of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris L.)
by Andrea Vannini, Michele Carbognani, Giorgio Chiari, T’ai G. W. Forte, Fabio Lumiero, Alessio Malcevschi, Margherita Rodolfi, Tommaso Ganino and Alessandro Petraglia
Plants 2022, 11(23), 3254; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11233254 - 26 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2100
Abstract
Biochar (BC) soil amendments could partially counteract soil carbon (C) stock decrease in broad-leaved forests in Italy; however, its effects on the growth of representative tree species—Fagus sylvatica L. and Quercus cerris L.—has not yet been addressed. We examine whether seed germination and growth [...] Read more.
Biochar (BC) soil amendments could partially counteract soil carbon (C) stock decrease in broad-leaved forests in Italy; however, its effects on the growth of representative tree species—Fagus sylvatica L. and Quercus cerris L.—has not yet been addressed. We examine whether seed germination and growth of these species are affected by addition of BC obtained from deciduous broadleaf trees. Seeds were left to germinate in greenhouse conditions under three different BC amendments: 0% (control), 10% and 20% (v/v). Seedlings were then subjected to controlled conditions under the same BC percentage. Biochar effects on seed germination were assessed measuring germination time and percentage, while effects on photosynthesis were assessed using leaf chlorophyll content (mg/m2) and photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM). Plant growth was estimated by recording leaf number, longest leaf length and plant height. Biochar treatments had no negative effects on germination and early growth stage of the two species. Positive effects were found on the chlorophyll content of both species (ca. +8%) regardless of the treatment and on the leaf number (+30%), leaf length (+14%) and plant height (+48%) of Q. cerris (only with 10% BC). Biochar applications seem, therefore, a suitable method for increasing broad-leaved forest C stock in Italy. Full article
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11 pages, 1308 KiB  
Article
Effect of Pyrolysis Temperature on the Sorption of Cd(II) and Se(IV) by Rice Husk Biochar
by Zheyong Li, Qu Su, Luojing Xiang, Yajun Yuan and Shuxin Tu
Plants 2022, 11(23), 3234; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11233234 - 25 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1246
Abstract
This study investigated the removal of metal cations (Cd(II)) and metalloid anions (Se(IV)) from their aqueous solution by using agricultural waste (rice husk biochar). Rice husk biochar samples were prepared under 300, 500, and 700 °C pyrolysis conditions and their physicochemical properties were [...] Read more.
This study investigated the removal of metal cations (Cd(II)) and metalloid anions (Se(IV)) from their aqueous solution by using agricultural waste (rice husk biochar). Rice husk biochar samples were prepared under 300, 500, and 700 °C pyrolysis conditions and their physicochemical properties were characterized. Aqueous Cd(II) and Se(IV) sorption kinetics and isotherms of rice husk biochar were studied. The results showed that the yield of rice husk biochar decreased from 41.6% to 33.3%, the pH increased from 7.5 to 9.9, and the surface area increased from 64.8 m2/g to 330.0 m2/g as the pyrolysis temperature increased from 300 °C to 700 °C. Under the experimental conditions, at increasing preparation temperatures of rice husk biochar, the sorption performance of Cd(II) and Se(IV) was enhanced. The sorption capability and sorption rate were considerably higher and faster for Cd(II) ions than for Se(IV) ions. Cd(II) sorption was found to reach equilibrium faster, within 150 min, while Se(IV) sorption was slower and reached equilibrium within 750 min. The maximum sorption capacities of cadmium and selenium by rice husk biochar were 67.7 mg/g and 0.024 mg/g, respectively, according to Langmuir model fitting. Full article
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18 pages, 367 KiB  
Review
Biochar Production and Characteristics, Its Impacts on Soil Health, Crop Production, and Yield Enhancement: A Review
by Shahbaz Khan, Sohail Irshad, Kashf Mehmood, Zuhair Hasnain, Muhammad Nawaz, Afroz Rais, Safia Gul, Muhammad Ashfaq Wahid, Abeer Hashem, Elsayed Fathi Abd_Allah and Danish Ibrar
Plants 2024, 13(2), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13020166 - 8 Jan 2024
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 5213
Abstract
Rapid urban expansion and a booming population are placing immense pressure on our agricultural systems, leading to detrimental impacts on soil fertility and overall health. Due to the extensive use of agrochemicals in agriculture, the necessity to meet the expanding demand for food [...] Read more.
Rapid urban expansion and a booming population are placing immense pressure on our agricultural systems, leading to detrimental impacts on soil fertility and overall health. Due to the extensive use of agrochemicals in agriculture, the necessity to meet the expanding demand for food has also resulted in unsustainable farming practices. Around the world, biochar, a multipurpose carbonaceous material, is being used to concurrently solve issues with enhancing soil fertility, plant growth, and development under both normal and stressful circumstances. It improves water retention, fosters nutrient absorption, and promotes microbial activity, creating a fertile environment that supports sustainable and resilient agriculture. Additionally, biochar acts as a carbon sink, contributing to long-term carbon sequestration and mitigating climate change impacts. The major benefit of biochar is that it helps the adsorption process with its highly porous structures and different functional groups. Understanding the elements involved in biochar formation that determine its characteristics and adsorptive capacity is necessary to assure the viability of biochar in terms of plant productivity and soil health, particularly biological activity in soil. This paper focuses on the development, composition, and effects of biochar on soil fertility and health, and crop productivity. Full article
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19 pages, 1430 KiB  
Review
Review on Rice Husk Biochar as an Adsorbent for Soil and Water Remediation
by Zheyong Li, Zhiwei Zheng, Hongcheng Li, Dong Xu, Xing Li, Luojing Xiang and Shuxin Tu
Plants 2023, 12(7), 1524; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12071524 - 31 Mar 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 7545
Abstract
Rice husk biochar (RHB) is a low-cost and renewable resource that has been found to be highly effective for the remediation of water and soil environments. Its yield, structure, composition, and physicochemical properties can be modified by changing the parameters of the preparation [...] Read more.
Rice husk biochar (RHB) is a low-cost and renewable resource that has been found to be highly effective for the remediation of water and soil environments. Its yield, structure, composition, and physicochemical properties can be modified by changing the parameters of the preparation process, such as the heating rate, pyrolysis temperature, and carrier gas flow rate. Additionally, its specific surface area and functional groups can be modified through physical, chemical, and biological means. Compared to biochar from other feedstocks, RHB performs poorly in solutions with coexisting metal, but can be modified for improved adsorption. In contaminated soils, RHB has been found to be effective in adsorbing heavy metals and organic matter, as well as reducing pollutant availability and enhancing crop growth by regulating soil properties and releasing beneficial elements. However, its effectiveness in complex environments remains uncertain, and further research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms and effectiveness in environmental remediation. Full article
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