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In-situ biochar application conserves nutrients while simultaneously mitigating runoff and erosion of an Fe-oxide-enriched tropical soil

Lee, Chia-Hsing, Wang, Chung-Chi, Lin, Huan-Hsuan, Lee, Sang Soo, Tsang, Daniel C.W., Jien, Shih-Hao, Ok, Yong Sik
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.619-620 pp. 665-671
Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera, agricultural productivity, biochar, climate change, composts, environmental sustainability, green waste, nitrogen, nutrient retention, nutrients, phosphorus, polyacrylamide, potassium, runoff, soil fertility, soil organic carbon, soil pH, tropical soils, wood
Climate change gives rise to rapid degradation of rural soils in sloping subtropical and tropical areas and might further threaten environmental sustainability. In this study, we conducted an integrated evaluation of the effects of wood biochar (WB) application mixed with a green waste dreg compost (GWC) on runoff quality, soil losses, and agricultural productivity for a highly weathered tropical soil. A conventional agriculture method, in which soils are treated with anionic polyacrylamide (PAM), was also conducted for comparison. The amounts of runoff and soil loss, and nutrient retention were evaluated a year after WB application. Soil fertility was also investigated through a year pot experiment with rape (Brassica campestris L.) cultivation. Our results showed that the WB application not only effectively increased soil pH, soil organic carbon (SOC) and exchangeable K⁺ but also increased the production of rape plants. Significant reduction of runoff and the increases of inorganic nitrogen (IN) and total phosphorus (TP) were found in the WB-treated soil. Compared to the control, the co-application of WB and GWC, particularly for the WB at 4%, decreased runoff by 16.8%, soil loss by 25%, and IN loss (via runoff) by 41.8%. Meanwhile, compared to the control and PAM treatments, the co-application of WB and GWC improved soil acidity and the contents of SOC, IN, TP, and exchangeable K⁺. The co-application of WB and GWC could be an alternative agricultural strategy to obtain benefits to agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability.