Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 113–122 | Cite as

Short-term effects of maize residue biochar on phosphorus availability in two soils with different phosphorus sorption capacities

  • Limei Zhai
  • Zhuoma CaiJi
  • Jian Liu
  • Hongyuan Wang
  • Tianzhi Ren
  • Xiapu Gai
  • Bin Xi
  • Hongbin Liu
Original Paper


This study investigated the effects of maize (Zea mays L.) straw biochar on phosphorus (P) availability in two soils with different P sorption capacities (iron and aluminum dominated slight acid Red earth and calcium dominated alkaline Fluvo-aquic soil). A 42-day incubation experiment was conducted to study how applications of biochar at different rates (0, 2, 4, and 8 % soil, w/w), in combination with and without mineral KH2PO4 fertilizer, affected contents of soil Olsen-P and soil microbial biomass P (SMB-P) and phosphomonoesterase activity. In addition, P sorption characteristics of soils amended with biochar, as well as main properties of the biochar and the soils, were determined. Application of 8 % biochar after 42 days of incubation substantially increased soil Olsen-P from 3 to 46 mg kg−1 in Red earth and from 13 to 137 mg kg−1 in Fluvo-aquic soil and increased SMB-P from 1 to 9 mg kg−1 in Red earth and from 9 to 21 mg kg−1 in Fluvo-aquic soil. The increase was mainly due to high concentrations of P in the ash fraction (77 % of total biochar P). Biochar effect on soil Olsen-P and SMB-P increased by higher biochar application rates and by lower P sorption capacity. Biochar application significantly reduced acid phosphomonoesterase activity in Red earth and alkaline phosphomonoesterase activity in Fluvo-aquic soil due to large amount of inorganic P added. We conclude that maize straw biochar is promising to potentially improve soil P availability in low-P soils, but further research at field scale is needed to confirm this.


Biochar Fluvo-aquic soil Phosphorus availability Phosphorus sorption capacity Red earth Soil Olsen-P 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Limei Zhai
    • 1
  • Zhuoma CaiJi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jian Liu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Hongyuan Wang
    • 1
  • Tianzhi Ren
    • 4
  • Xiapu Gai
    • 1
  • Bin Xi
    • 1
  • Hongbin Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional PlanningChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Life and Environmental ScienceMinzu University of ChinaBeijingChina
  3. 3.Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research UnitUSDA-Agricultural Research ServiceUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Agro-Environmental Protection, Ministry of AgricultureTianjinChina

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