Thumbnail Image

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

Riddle, M
Bergström, L
Schmieder, F
Lundberg, D
Condron, L
Cederlund, H
Journal Article
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::0503 Soil Sciences , ANZSRC::050304 Soil Chemistry (excl. Carbon Sequestration Science) , ANZSRC::050305 Soil Physics
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 (1.2 kg ha⁻¹) > organic 1 (1.0 kg ha⁻¹) > sand (0.3 kg ha⁻¹) > loam (0.2 kg ha⁻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 (Qmax) of the coated biochar was 65.4 mg P g⁻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.