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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Impact of biochar coated with magnesium (hydr)oxide on phosphorus leaching from organic and mineral soils

Riddle, Matthew; Bergstrom, Lars; Schmieder, Frank; Lundberg, Daniel; Condron, Leo; Cederlund, Harald


Purpose Recent research suggests that Swedish organic arable soils have been under-recognized as a potential source of phosphorus (P) loading to water bodies. The aim of this study was to compare P losses through leaching from organic and high-fertility mineral soils. In addition, the effectiveness of a magnesium-salt-coated biochar applied below the topsoil as a mitigation strategy for reducing P losses was evaluated.Materials and methods Phosphorus leaching was measured from four medium- to high-P arable soils, two Typic Haplosaprists (organic 1 and 2), a Typic Hapludalf (sand), and an unclassified loam textured soil (loam), in a 17-month field study utilizing 90-cm-long lysimeters. A magnesium-salt-coated biochar was produced and characterized using X-ray powder diffraction (XPD), scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), and X-ray adsorption (XANES) spectroscopy, and its phosphate adsorption capacity was determined at laboratory scale. It was also applied as a 3-cm layer, 27 cm below the soil surface of the same lysimeters and examined as a mitigation measure to reduce P leaching.Results and discussion Total-P loads from the 17-month, unamended lysimeters were in the order of organic 2 (1.2kgha(-1))>organic 1 (1.0 kgha(-1))>sand (0.3 kgha(-1))>loam (0.2 kgha(-1)). Macropore flow, humic matter competition for sorption sites, and fewer sorption sites likely caused higher P losses from the organic soils. Analysis by XRD and SEM revealed magnesium was primarily deposited as periclase (MgO) on the biochar surface but hydrated to brucite (Mg(OH)(2)) in water. The Langmuir maximum adsorption capacity (Q(max))of the coated biochar was 65.4 mg Pg(-1). Lysimeters produced mixed results, with a 74% (P<0.05), 51% (NS), and 30% (NS) reduction in phosphate-P from the organic 1, organic 2, and sand, respectively, while P leaching increased by 230% (NS) from the loam.Conclusions The findings of this study indicate that P leached from organic arable soils can be greater than from mineral soils, and therefore, these organic soils require further investigation into reducing their P losses. Metal-enriched biochar, applied as an adsorptive layer below the topsoil, has the potential to reduce P losses from medium- to high-P organic soils but appear to be less useful in mineral soils.


Biochar; Leaching; Lysimeter; Phosphorus; Sorption

Published in

Journal of Soils and Sediments
2019, Volume: 19, number: 4, pages: 1875-1889