Special Issue "The Efficiency of Biochar and Bioslurry toward Sustainable Agriculture and Circular Economy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2022 | Viewed by 6677

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Keiji Jindo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Agrosystems Research, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: organic matter, biochar, smallholder farming, precision agriculture, carbon sequestration
Mr. Hans Langeveld
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biomass research, 6702 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: nitrogen management, GHG emissions, organic matter, biogas, biomass, land use
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There is an urgent need to develop organic waste treatment systems that serve the circular economy and fit in a climate abatement agenda, redefining the role of waste management and sustainable agriculture in our society. Biochar and biogas play a crucial role in this process, providing a range of services to agricultural and environmental domains.

Biochar is used for carbon sequestration, reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions and removal of heavy metals. Bioslurry (or digestate) is a liquid organic fertilizer, that can be used to enhance soil structure, provide valuable nutrients in practical ratios and support livestock diets while killing harmful micro-organisms. Together, biochar and bioslurry can play an important role in the development and deployment of effective carbon-negative routes in food as well as energy production. To date, however, information regarding the beneficial roles of the biochar and bioslurry still is quite limited and pitfalls of their uses within the framework of the circular economy across different sectors (agriculture, industry, energy, hydrology, etc.) need further attention.

This Special Issue explores the benefits of biochar and bioslurry application, evaluating their potential role in a sustainable agriculture and the circular economy at large. It aims to bring together a wide range of contributions from researchers working in diverse fields including agronomy, microbiology, chemistry, environmental sciences, economics, and policy sciences. We welcome original scientific articles related to a wide range of biochar and bioslurry use from all parts of the world.

Dr. Keiji Jindo
Mr. Johannes W.A. Langeveld
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • digestate
  • pyrolysis
  • soil
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • water
  • contaminant
  • energy
  • microbial fuel cell

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Biochar Phosphate Fertilizer Loaded with Urea Preserves Available Nitrogen Longer than Conventional Urea
Sustainability 2022, 14(2), 686; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14020686 - 09 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 323
Abstract
Biochar, a carbon-rich material obtained by pyrolysis of organic wastes, is an attractive matrix for loading nutrients and producing enhanced efficiency fertilizers. In this study, poultry litter (PL) was enriched with phosphoric acid (H3PO4) and MgO to produce a [...] Read more.
Biochar, a carbon-rich material obtained by pyrolysis of organic wastes, is an attractive matrix for loading nutrients and producing enhanced efficiency fertilizers. In this study, poultry litter (PL) was enriched with phosphoric acid (H3PO4) and MgO to produce a biochar-based fertilizer (PLB), which was loaded with urea in a 4:5 ratio (PLB:urea, w/w) to generate a 15–15% N–P slow-release fertilizer (PLB–N) to be used in a single application to soil. A greenhouse experiment was carried out in which a common bean was cultivated followed by maize to evaluate the agronomic efficiency and the residual effect of fertilization with PLB–N in Ultisol. Six treatments were tested, including four doses of N (100, 150, 200, and 250 mg kg−1) via PLB–N in a single application, a control with triple superphosphate (TSP—applied once) and urea (split three times), and a control without N-P fertilization. The greatest effect of PLB–N was the residual effect of fertilization, in which maize showed a linear response to the N doses applied via PLB–N but showed no response to conventional TSP + urea fertilization. Biochar has the potential as a loading matrix to preserve N availability and increase residual effects and N-use efficiency by plants. Full article
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Article
Sustainable Management of Peanut Shell through Biochar and Its Application as Soil Ameliorant
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13796; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413796 - 14 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 627
Abstract
The current research encompasses utilization of peanut shells (PS) as feedstock for pyrolysis carried out at various temperatures (250, 400, and 550 °C) for deriving biochar, namely PS-BC250, PS-BC400, and PS-BC550. After analyzing the biochar types physicochemically, it was applied as a soil [...] Read more.
The current research encompasses utilization of peanut shells (PS) as feedstock for pyrolysis carried out at various temperatures (250, 400, and 550 °C) for deriving biochar, namely PS-BC250, PS-BC400, and PS-BC550. After analyzing the biochar types physicochemically, it was applied as a soil ameliorant for the growth of cucumber. The results showed that in prepared biochar type, bulk density, volatile contents, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen content decreased, whereas pH, electrical conductivity, ash content, fixed carbon content, and surface area increased with the increasing temperature. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) presented high porosity, re-orientation of vessels, and a greater number of aromatic compounds, respectively, for PS-BC prepared at 550 °C. On applying PS-BC250, PS-BC400, and PS-BC550 as amendments in potted soil at 2, 4, and 6% (w/w), it improved soil quality (viz pH, ECe, BD, and soil water holding capacity) and increased the yield of cucumber. Because of improved soil properties and crop yield, PS-BC550 at the rate of 4% (w/w) demonstrated a great potential for agricultural application while provisioning dual circular economic indicators in the form of diverting PS waste to an effective alternative of chemical fertilizer having intensive carbon footprints in cucumber production. Full article
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Article
Potential Application of Biochar Composite Derived from Rice Straw and Animal Bones to Improve Plant Growth
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 11104; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131911104 - 08 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 660
Abstract
The current study is aimed at deriving biochar (BC) from rice straw (RS-BC) and waste bones (WB-BC), being wasted without adequate return at the expense of environmental degradation. The RS and WB feedstocks were pyrolyzed at 550 °C, and the potential of derived [...] Read more.
The current study is aimed at deriving biochar (BC) from rice straw (RS-BC) and waste bones (WB-BC), being wasted without adequate return at the expense of environmental degradation. The RS and WB feedstocks were pyrolyzed at 550 °C, and the potential of derived biochar as a slow nutrient releasing soil amendment was examined during the growth of ridge gourd. Proximate analysis of the prepared biochars showed significant improvement in ash content and fixed carbon as compared to their raw biomasses. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis of RS-BC and WB-BC displayed a diverse range of functional groups viz. derivatives of cellulose and hydroxylapatite (HA); macro and microporosity; multiple nutrients. Application of RS-BC and WB-BC in potted soil alone and as biochar composite (RS-BC+WB-BC) at 5, 10 and 15% (w/w) and chemical fertilizer (CF) resulted in a significant increase in soil pH, electrical conductivity (ECe), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and water holding capacity (WHC) in exchange for growth and yield of ridge gourd. However, there were insignificant differences in the growth of plants in response to RS-BC, WB-BC alone and CF with biochar composite at 15% amendment. For giving insignificantly different growth results than CF, the prepared biochar composite showed outstanding potential as an organic fertilizer applicable in agrarian soils to elevate soil properties and yield of agricultural commodities. Full article
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Article
Potential of Biochar Derived from Agricultural Residues for Sustainable Management
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8147; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158147 - 21 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
A horizontal drum kiln is a traditional method widely used in Southeast Asian countries for producing biochar. An understanding of temperature conditions in the kiln and its influence on biochar properties is crucial for identifying suitable biochar applications. In this study, four agricultural [...] Read more.
A horizontal drum kiln is a traditional method widely used in Southeast Asian countries for producing biochar. An understanding of temperature conditions in the kiln and its influence on biochar properties is crucial for identifying suitable biochar applications. In this study, four agricultural residues (corncob, coconut husk, coconut shell, and rice straw) were used for drum kiln biochar production. The agricultural residues were turned into biochar within 100–200 min, depending on their structures. The suitability of biochar for briquette fuels was analyzed using proximate, ultimate, and elemental analysis. The biochar’s physical and chemical properties were characterized via bulk density, iodine number, pHpzc, SEM, and FTIR measurements. All biochars had low O/C and H/C ratios and negative charge from both carbonyl and hydroxyl groups. Coconut husk and shell biochar had desirable properties such as high heating value and a high amount of surface functional groups which can interact with nutrients in soil. These biochars are thus suitable for use for a variety of purposes including as biofuels, adsorbents, and as soil amendments. Full article
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Article
One Year Residual Effect of Sewage Sludge Biochar as a Soil Amendment for Maize in a Brazilian Oxisol
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2226; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042226 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 704
Abstract
The thermochemical transformation of sewage sludge (SS) to biochar (SSB) allows exploring the advantages of SS and reduces possible environmental risks associated with its use. Recent studies have shown that SSB is nutrient-rich and may replace mineral fertilizers. However, there are still some [...] Read more.
The thermochemical transformation of sewage sludge (SS) to biochar (SSB) allows exploring the advantages of SS and reduces possible environmental risks associated with its use. Recent studies have shown that SSB is nutrient-rich and may replace mineral fertilizers. However, there are still some questions to be answered about the residual effect of SSB on soil nutrient availability. In addition, most of the previous studies were conducted in pots or soil incubations. Therefore, the residual effect of SSB on soil properties in field conditions remains unclear. This study shows the results of nutrient availability and uptake as well as maize yield the third cropping of a three-year consecutive corn cropping system. The following treatments were compared: (1) control: without mineral fertilizer and biochar; (2) NPK: with mineral fertilizer; (3) SSB300: with biochar produced at 300 °C; (4) SSB300+NPK; (5) SSB500: with biochar produced at 500 °C; and (6) SSB500+NPK. The results show that SSB has one-year residual effects on soil nutrient availability and nutrient uptake by maize, especially phosphorus. Available soil P contents in plots that received SSB were around five times higher than the control and the NPK treatments. Pyrolysis temperature influenced the SSB residual effect on corn yield. One year after suspending the SSB application, SSB300 increased corn yield at the same level as the application of NPK. SSB300 stood out and promoted higher grain yield in the residual period (8524 kg ha−1) than SSB500 (6886 kg ha−1). Regardless of pyrolysis temperature, biochar boosted the mineral fertilizer effect resulting in higher grain yield than the exclusive application of NPK. Additional long-term studies should be focused on SSB as a slow-release phosphate fertilizer. Full article
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Article
The Effect of Untreated and Acidified Biochar on NH3-N Emissions from Slurry Digestate
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 837; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020837 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1294
Abstract
The development of new options to reduce ammonia (NH3) emissions during slurry manure storage is still required due to the shortcomings of the current technologies. This study aimed to identify to what extent untreated and acid-treated biochar (BC) and pure acids [...] Read more.
The development of new options to reduce ammonia (NH3) emissions during slurry manure storage is still required due to the shortcomings of the current technologies. This study aimed to identify to what extent untreated and acid-treated biochar (BC) and pure acids could reduce ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) volatilization and increase nitrogen retention in slurry digestate. The NH3-N emissions were effectively reduced by H2SO4 and H3PO4 acids, untreated BC when applied mixed into the digestate and acidified BC treatments applied on the surface of the digestate. Acidification increased the specific surface area and number of O-containing surface functional groups of the BC and decreased the pH, alkalinity and the hydrophobic property. Compared to untreated BC, the ability of BC to reduce NH3-N emissions was greater when it was acidified with H2SO4 and applied to the digestate surface. The effect on digestate pH of acidified BC when applied mixed into the digestate was not different, except for H2O2, from that of the addition of the respective pure acid to digestate. The total N concentration in digestate was not significantly correlated with NH3-N emissions. These findings indicate that acidified BC could be an effective conditioner to reduce NH3-N emissions from slurry digestate storage. Full article
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Review

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Review
A Critical-Systematic Review of the Interactions of Biochar with Soils and the Observable Outcomes
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13726; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413726 - 13 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 882
Abstract
Biochar research has experienced a significant increase in the recent two decades. It is growing quickly, with hundreds of reviews, including meta-analyses, that have been published reporting diverse effects of biochar on soil properties and plant performance. However, an in-depth synthesis of biochar–soil [...] Read more.
Biochar research has experienced a significant increase in the recent two decades. It is growing quickly, with hundreds of reviews, including meta-analyses, that have been published reporting diverse effects of biochar on soil properties and plant performance. However, an in-depth synthesis of biochar–soil interactions at the molecular level is not available. For instance, in many meta-analyses, the effects of biochar on soil properties and functions were summarized without focusing on the specificity of the biochar and soil properties. When applied to soils, biochar interacts with different soil components including minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and nutrients, while it also changes soil microbial community structure and their occurrence. These different interactions modify soil physicochemical properties with consequences for dynamic changes in nutrient availability and, thus, plant performance. This review systematically analyzed biochar effects on soil properties and functions: (a) soil physical properties; (b) chemical properties; (c) biological properties; and (d) functions (plant performance, nutrient cycling, etc.). Our synthesis revealed that the surface properties of biochar (specific surface area and charge) and its associated nutrient content determine its role in the soil. At the same time, the extent of changes depends on soil properties, suggesting that both biochar and soil properties need to be considered for harvesting benefits of biochar application. Altogether, we believe our synthesis will provide a guide for researchers and practitioners for future research as well as large-scale field applications. Full article
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