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Effect of Biochar and Coal Fly Ash Soil Amendments on the Leaching Loss of Phosphorus in Subtropical Sandy Ultisols


Leaching of phosphorus fertilizer from loose-structured subtropical soils is a major course of agricultural water pollution in southeastern USA. Soil amendments play a major role in the phosphorus retention in soil through different mechanisms. In the present study we tested the effect of two soil amendments; biochar and coal fly ash in immobilizing the soluble phosphorus fertilizer added to sandy Ultisol soils from subtropical USA. Column leaching tests were conducted with Ultisol soil added with biochar (from avocado branch cut biomass) and coal fly ash at 5 tons/ha rate, under simulated rainfall, to collect the leachate over five pore volumes. The leachate was analyzed for the phosphate phosphorus content. In the end, the soil columns were carefully extracted, sectioned and analyzed for the total phosphorus, after acid digestion. Results showed 50% and 6% drop of soluble phosphorus leaching loss in biochar and coal fly ash added soil respectively. Soil amendments have shifted the loosely bound phosphorus into the Ca/Mg bound and Al/Fe/Mn bound pools which are not readily water extractable. Addition of biochar and coal fly ash together showed a synergistic interaction effect in reducing the leaching loss of phosphorus which needs further investigation to understand the exact mechanism.

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Correspondence to Nadeesha L. Ukwattage.

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Ukwattage, N.L., Li, Y., Gan, Y. et al. Effect of Biochar and Coal Fly Ash Soil Amendments on the Leaching Loss of Phosphorus in Subtropical Sandy Ultisols. Water Air Soil Pollut 231, 56 (2020).

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  • Phosphorus leaching
  • biochar
  • coal fly ash
  • acidic soil