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Title: Characterisation and evaluation of biochars for their application as a soil amendment
Contributor(s): Singh, Balwant (author); Singh, Bhupinderpal  (author); Cowie, Annette  (author)
Publication Date: 2010
DOI: 10.1071/SR10058
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Abstract: Biochar properties can be significantly influenced by feedstock source and pyrolysis conditions; this warrants detailed characterisation of biochars for their application to improve soil fertility and sequester carbon. We characterised 11 biochars, made from 5 feedstocks ['Eucalyptus saligna' wood (at 400°C and 550°C both with and without steam activation); 'E. saligna' leaves (at 400°C and 550°C with activation); papermill sludge (at 550°C with activation); poultry litter and cow manure (each at 400°C without activation and at 550°C with activation)] using standard or modified soil chemical procedures. Biochar pH values varied from near neutral to highly alkaline. In general, wood biochars had higher total C, lower ash content, lower total N, P, K, S, Ca, Mg, Al, Na, and Cu contents, and lower potential cation exchange capacity (CEC) and exchangeable cations than the manure-based biochars, and the leaf biochars were generally in-between. Papermill sludge biochar had the highest total and exchangeable Ca, CaCO₃ equivalence, total Cu, and potential CEC, and the lowest total and exchangeable K. Water-soluble salts were higher in the manure-based biochars, followed by leaf, papermill sludge, and wood biochars. Total As, Cd, Pb, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the biochars were either very low or below detection limits. In general, increase in pyrolysis temperature increased the ash content, pH, and surface basicity and decreased surface acidity. The activation treatment had a little effect on most of the biochar properties. X-ray diffraction analysis showed the presence of whewellite in 'E. saligna' biochars produced at 400°C, and the whewellite was converted to calcite in biochars formed at 550°C. Papermill sludge biochar contained the largest amount of calcite. Water-soluble salts and calcite interfered with surface charge measurements and should be removed before the surface charge measurements of biochar. The biochars used in the study ranged from C-rich to nutrient-rich to lime-rich soil amendment, and these properties could be optimised through feedstock formulation and pyrolysis temperature for tailored soil application.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Soil Research, 48(7), p. 516-525
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Collingwood, Australia
ISSN: 0004-9573
Field of Research (FOR): 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960302 Climate Change Mitigation Strategies
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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