Date palm waste biochars alter a soil respiration, microbial biomass carbon, and heavy metal mobility in contaminated mined soil

  • Mohammad I. Al-Wabel
  • Adel Rabie A. Usman
  • Abdullah S. Al-Farraj
  • Yong Sik Ok
  • Adel Abduljabbar
  • Abdulelah I. Al-Faraj
  • Abdelazeem S. Sallam
Original Paper


A 30-day incubation experiment was conducted using a heavy metal-contaminated mined soil amended with date palm feedstock (FS) and its derivative biochars (BCs) at three pyrolysis temperatures of 300 (BC-300), 500 (BC-500), and 700 °C (BC-700) with different application rates (0.0, 5, 15, and 30 g kg−1) to investigate their short-term effects on soil respiration (CO2–C efflux), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), soil organic carbon (SOC), mobile fraction of heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, Mn, and Fe), pH, and electrical conductivity (EC). The results showed that FS and BC-300 with increasing addition rate significantly reduced soil pH, whereas SOC, CO2–C efflux, and soil MBC were increased compared to the control. On the contrary, BC-500 and BC-700 increased soil pH at early stage of incubation and have small or no effects on SOC, CO2–C efflux, and MBC. Based on the results, the date palm biochars exhibited much lower cumulative CO2–C efflux than feedstock, even with low-temperature biochar, indicating that BCs have C sequestration potential. Applying BC-700 at 15 and 30 g kg−1 significantly reduced cumulative CO2–C efflux by 21.8 and 45.4% compared to the control, respectively. The incorporation of FS into contaminated soil significantly increased the mobile content of Cd and Mn, but decreased the mobile content of Cu. However, BC-300 significantly reduced the mobile content of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn. It could be concluded that low-temperature biochar could be used as a soil amendment for reducing heavy metal mobility in mining contaminated soil in addition to minimize soil CO2–C efflux.


CO2–C efflux Contamination Microbial activity Mining soil Pyrolysis temperature Toxic metals 



The authors extend their appreciation to the Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for funding this work through the international research group Project No. IRG-14-14.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad I. Al-Wabel
    • 1
  • Adel Rabie A. Usman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Abdullah S. Al-Farraj
    • 1
  • Yong Sik Ok
    • 3
  • Adel Abduljabbar
    • 4
  • Abdulelah I. Al-Faraj
    • 5
  • Abdelazeem S. Sallam
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Sciences Department, College of Food and Agricultural SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of Soils and Water, Faculty of AgricultureAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  3. 3.Korea Biochar Research Center, School of Natural Resources and Environmental ScienceKangwon National UniversityChuncheonKorea
  4. 4.Industrial Psychology, College of EducationKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.Agriculture Engineering Department, College of Food and Agriculture SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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