Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 213, Issue 1–4, pp 47–55 | Cite as

Evaluation of Biochar Effects on Nitrogen Retention and Leaching in Multi-Layered Soil Columns

  • Ying Ding
  • Yu-Xue Liu
  • Wei-Xiang Wu
  • De-Zhi Shi
  • Min Yang
  • Zhe-Ke Zhong


Biochar can play a key role in nutrient cycling, potentially affecting nitrogen retention when applied to soils. In this project, laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate the adsorption properties of bamboo charcoal (BC) and the influence of BC on nitrogen retention at different soil depths using multi-layered soil columns. Results showed that BC could adsorb ammonium ion predominantly by cation exchange. Ammonium nitrogen (NH4 +-N) concentrations in the leachate of the soil columns showed significant differences at different depths after ammonium chloride application to the columns depending on whether BC had been added. Addition of 0.5% BC to the surface soil layer retarded the downward transport of NH4 +-N in the 70-day experiment, as indicated by measurements made during the first 7 days at 10 cm, and later, in the experimental period at 20 cm. In addition, application of BC reduced overall cumulative losses of NH4 +-N via leaching at 20 cm by 15.2%. Data appeared to suggest that BC could be used as a potential nutrient-retaining additive in order to increase the utilization efficiency of chemical fertilizers. Nonetheless, the effect of BC addition on controlling soil nitrogen losses through leaching needs to be further assessed before large-scale applications to agricultural fields are implemented.


Bamboo charcoal Nitrogen leaching Nitrogen retention Ammonium nitrogen Adsorption 



This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (project No. 40873059), Science and Technology Department of Zhejiang Province Project (Grant No. 2008C13022-1), and National Critical Project for Science and Technology on Water Pollution Prevention and Control (No. 2008ZX07101-006).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying Ding
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yu-Xue Liu
    • 2
  • Wei-Xiang Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • De-Zhi Shi
    • 2
  • Min Yang
    • 2
  • Zhe-Ke Zhong
    • 3
  1. 1.Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Non-point Source Pollution ControlHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, College of Environment and Resource ScienceZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.China National Research Center of BambooHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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