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Effect of biochar on leaching of organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus from compost in bioretention systems

Iqbal, Hamid, Garcia-Perez, Manuel, Flury, Markus
The Science of the total environment 2015 v.521-522 pp. 37-45
bioretention areas, surface water, nitrogen, composts, soil quality, leaching, biochar, dissolved organic carbon, nutrients, nitrates, phosphorus
Compost is used in bioretention systems to improve soil quality, water infiltration, and retention of contaminants. However, compost contains dissolved organic matter, nitrate, and phosphorus, all of which can leach out and potentially contaminate ground and surface waters. To reduce the leaching of nutrients and dissolved organic matter from compost, biochar may be mixed into the bioretention systems. Our objective was to test whether biochar and co-composted biochar mixed into mature compost can reduce the leaching of organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. There was no significant difference between the effects of biochar and co-composted biochar amendments on nutrient leaching. Further, biochar amendments did not significantly reduce the leaching of dissolved organic carbon, nitrate, and phosphorus as compared to the compost only treatment. The compost–sand mix was the most effective in reducing nitrate and phosphorus leaching among the media.