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How close is artificial biochar aging to natural biochar aging in fields? A meta-analysis

Li, Haixiao, Lu, Xueqiang, Xu, Yan, Liu, Haitao
Geoderma 2019 v.352 pp. 96-103
biochar, cation exchange capacity, elemental composition, freezing, imports, long term effects, meta-analysis, oxidants, oxidation, pH, soil quality, surface area, thawing
Biochar is used as a soil amendment to improve soil quality and fertility. The performance of biochar changes as it ages in fields. Artificial biochar aging methods (i.e. chemical oxidation) are considered proxies for natural biochar aging and help to evaluate the long-term effects of biochar amendment in soil. However, few studies have focused on how close artificial biochar aging methods are to biochar aging in fields. A meta-analysis of 42-studies was conducted to quantitatively compare the effects of soil incubation (natural field biochar aging), chemical oxidation (chemical biochar aging) and freeze-thaw cycling (freeze-thaw biochar aging) on biochar properties, including surface and bulk element compositions (C, H, O, N), specific surface area, cation exchange capacity and pH. The results showed that the artificial biochar aging methods cannot yet simulate biochar aging in the soil. In comparison with natural field aging, chemical aging tended to have a higher degree of oxidation at the surface of the aged biochar and posed the problems of oxidation inside the biochar and the import of exogenous elements from oxidants to the biochar. Freeze-thaw aging changed only the porous structure of the biochar with no significant alterations to element compositions, in contrast with natural aging.