Main content area

Phosphorus retention and availability in three contrasting soils amended with rice husk and corn cob biochar at varying pyrolysis temperatures

Eduah, J.O., Nartey, E.K., Abekoe, M.K., Breuning-Madsen, H., Andersen, M.N.
Geoderma 2019 v.341 pp. 10-17
acid soils, adsorption, alkaline soils, aluminum, bioavailability, biochar, calcium phosphates, corn cobs, desorption, feedstocks, iron, phosphorus, potassium chloride, pyrolysis, rice hulls, soil amendments, sorption isotherms, temperature, tropical soils
The reactive nature of phosphorus (P) leads to the formation of insoluble Fe, Al and Ca phosphates in highly weathered tropical soils, thus reducing P availability for plant uptake. Biochar with its heterogeneous surface properties as influenced by feedstock and pyrolysis temperature can affect P retention and availability in tropical soils. In the present study, incubation studies were conducted for 90 days to investigate the effect of corn cob and rice husk biochar on P sorption and desorption in two acid (Typic Plinthustult-A & Plinthic Acrudox-B) and one neutral soil (Quartzipsamment-C). The biochars were pyrolyzed at varying temperatures (300 °C, 450 °C and 650 °C) and applied at a rate of 1% (w/w) to the soils. Phosphorus sorption data were fitted to Langmuir and Freundlich models. Phosphorus desorption was done on the residual samples that received initial P concentrations of 21.5 mg L−1, 43.0 mg L−1 and 86.0 mg L−1 solution using 10 mM KCl. The P sorption capacity of the two acid soils i.e. A (395 mg kg−1) and B (296 mg kg−1) were more than two fold that of the neutral soil (C) (105 mg kg−1). Addition of the biochar types to soil A raised the equilibrium P concentration in solution at decreasing pyrolysis temperature. Similar trend was observed in soil B with the exception of corn cob and rice husk biochar at 650 °C which increased the soil's (B) P sorption capacity. In soil C, both biochar types increased P sorption capacity with increasing pyrolysis temperatures. Phosphorus desorbability increased with increasing initial P concentrations in the three soils. Generally, P desorbability increased in the acid soils but decreased in the neutral soil upon biochar amendment. Decreases in P adsorption and consequently increases in P desorption were more pronounced when the 300 °C biochar types were amended with the soils. The study thus showed that biochar pyrolyzed at 300–450 °C could be used to reduce P sorption and increase P bioavailability especially in acid soils. The addition of biochar to neutral or alkaline soils might increase P retention possibly in the short-term, reducing P bioavailability.