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Acidic sandy soil improvement with biochar — A microcosm study

Molnár, Mónika, Vaszita, Emese, Farkas, Éva, Ujaczki, Éva, Fekete-Kertész, Ildikó, Tolner, Mária, Klebercz, Orsolya, Kirchkeszner, Csaba, Gruiz, Katalin, Uzinger, Nikolett, Feigl, Viktória
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.563-564 pp. 855-865
animals, biochar, composts, ecotoxicology, feedstocks, fertilizer rates, field experimentation, hulls, microorganisms, paper, physical activity, physical properties, physicochemical properties, pyrolysis, risk, sandy soils, sludge, soil amendments, soil biota, soil habitats, soil physical properties, toxicity, wood
Biochar produced from a wide range of organic materials by pyrolysis has been reported as a means to improve soil physical properties, fertility and crop productivity. However, there is a lack of studies on the complex effects of biochar both on the degraded sandy soil physico-chemical properties and the soil biota as well as on toxicity, particularly in combined application with fertilizer and compost.A 7-week microcosm experiment was conducted to improve the quality of an acidic sandy soil combining variations in biochar types and amounts, compost and fertilizer application rates. The applied biochars were produced from different feedstocks such as grain husks, paper fibre sludge and wood screenings. The main purpose of the microcosm experiment was to assess the efficiency and applicability of different biochars as soil amendment prior to field trials and to choose the most efficient biochar to improve the fertility, biological activity and physical properties of acidic sandy soils. We complemented the methodology with ecotoxicity assessment to evaluate the possible risks to the soil as habitat for microbes, plants and animals.There was clear evidence of biochar-soil interactions positively affecting both the physico-chemical properties of the tested acidic sandy soil and the soil biota.Our results suggest that the grain husk and the paper fibre sludge biochars applied to the tested soil at 1% and 0.5 w/w% rate mixed with compost, respectively can supply a more liveable habitat for plants and soil living animals than the acidic sandy soil without treatment.