Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 1561–1572 | Cite as

Effects of biochars derived from different feedstocks and pyrolysis temperatures on soil physical and hydraulic properties




Biochar addition to soils potentially affects various soil properties, and these effects are dependent on biochars derived from different feedstock materials and pyrolysis processes. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of amendment of different biochars on soil physical and hydraulic properties.

Materials and methods

Biochars were produced with dairy manure and woodchip at temperatures of 300, 500, and 700 °C, respectively. Each biochar was mixed at 5 % (w/w) with a forest soil, and the mixture was incubated for 180 days, during which soil physical and hydraulic properties were measured.

Results and discussion

Results showed that the biochar addition significantly enhanced the formation of soil macroaggregates at the early incubation time. The biochar application significantly reduced soil bulk density, increased the amount of soil organic matter, and stimulated microbial activity at the early incubation stage. Saturated hydraulic conductivities of the soil with biochars, especially produced at high pyrolysis temperature, were higher than those without biochars on the sampling days. The treatments with woodchip biochars resulted in higher saturated hydraulic conductivities than the dairy manure biochar treatments. Biochar applications improved water retention capacity, with stronger effects by biochars produced at higher pyrolysis temperatures. At the same suction, the soil with woodchip biochars possessed higher water content than that with the dairy manure biochars.


Biochar addition significantly affected the soil physical and hydraulic properties. The effects were different with biochars derived from different feedstock materials and pyrolysis temperatures.


Biochar Feedstock Pyrolysis temperature Soil hydraulic properties Soil physical properties 


  1. Abiven S, Menasseri S, Chenu C (2009) The effects of organic inputs over time on soil aggregate stability—a literature analysis. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams WA (1973) The effect of organic matter on the bulk and true densities of some uncultivated podsoilc soils. J Soil Sci 24:11–17Google Scholar
  3. Asai H, Samson BK, Stephan HM, Songyikhangsuthor K, Homma K, Kiyono Y, Inoue Y, Shiraiwa T, Horie T (2009) Biochar amendment techniques for upland rice production in Northern Laos 1. Soil physical properties, leaf SPAD and grain yield. Field Crop Res 111:81–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayodele A, Oguntunde P, Joseph A, Souza Dias Junior M (2009) Numerical analysis of the impact of charcoal production on soil hydrological behavior, runoff response and erosion susceptibility. Rev Bras Ciênc Solo 33:137–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bagreev A, Bandosz TJ, Locke DC (2001) Pore structure and surface chemistry of adsorbents obtained by pyrolysis of sewage-derived fertilizer. Carbon 39:1971–1979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bossuyt H, Denef K, Six J, Frey SD, Merckx R, Paustian K (2001) Influence of microbial populations and residue quality on aggregate stability. Appl Soil Ecol 16:195–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brewer R (1964) Fabric and mineral analysis of soils. John Wiley and Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Brockhoff SR, Christians NE, Killorn RJ, Horton R, Davis DD (20100) Physical and mineral-nutrition properties of sand-based turfgrass root zones amended with biochar. Agro J 102:1627–1631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brookes PC, Landman A, Pruden G, Jenkinson DS (1985) Chloroform fumigation and the release of soil nitrogen: a rapid direct extraction method to measure microbial biomass nitrogen in soil. Soil Biol Biochem 17:837–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brunauer S, Emmett PH, Teller J (1938) Adsorption of gases in multimolecular layers. J Am Chem Soc 60:309–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen Y, Shinogi Y, Taira M (2010) Influence of biochar use on sugarcane growth, soil parameters, and groundwater quality. Aust J Soil Res 48:526–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Downi A, Crosky A, Munroe P (2009) Physical properties of biochar. In: Lehmann J, Joseph S (eds) Biochar for environmental management: science and technology. Earthscan, London, pp 13–29Google Scholar
  13. Dumroese KR, Heiskanen J, Englund K, Tervahauta A (2011) Pelleted biochar: chemical and physical properties show potential use as a substrate in container nurseries. Biomass Bioenergy 35:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Glaser B, Lehmann J, Zech W (2002) Ameliorating physical and chemical properties of highly weathered soils in the tropics with charcoal—a review. Biol Fertil Soils 35:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jirku V, Kodesova R, Nikodem A, Muhlhanselova M, Zigova A (2013) Temporal variability of structure and hydraulic properties of topsoil of three soil types. Geoderma 204–205:43–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Klute A (1986) Water retention: laboratory methods. In: Klute A (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 1. Physical and mineralogical methods. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI, pp 635–685Google Scholar
  17. Klute A, Dirksen C (1986) Hydraulic conductivity and diffusivity: laboratory methods. In: Klute A (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 1. Physical and mineralogical methods. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI, pp 687–703Google Scholar
  18. Kutílek M, Jenele L, Panayiotopoulos KP (2006) The influence of uniaxial compression upon pore size distribution in bi-model soils. Soil Tillage Res 86:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kuzyakov Y, Subbotina I, Chen H, Bogomolova I, Xu X (2009) Black carbon decomposition and incorporation into soil microbial biomass estimated by 14C labeling. Soil Biol Biochem 41:210–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Laird DA, Fleming P, Davis DD, Horton R, Wang B, Karlen DL (2010) Impact of biochar amendments on the quality of a typical Midwestern agricultural soil. Geoderma 158:443–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lehmann J, da Silva JP Jr, Rondon MCM, Greenwood J, Nehls T, Steiner C, Glaser B (2002) Slash-and-char—a feasible alternative for soil fertility management in the Central Amazon. 17th World Congress of Soil Science, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  22. Lehmann J, Gaunt J, Rondon M (2006) Bio-char sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems—a review. Mitig Adapt Strat Gl Ch11:395–419Google Scholar
  23. Liang B (2006) Black carbon increases cation exchange capacity in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:17–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu Y, Yang M, Wu Y, Wang H, Chen Y, Wu W (2011) Reducing CH4 and CO2 emissions from waterlogged paddy soil with biochar. J Soils Sediments 11:930–939CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luo Y, Durenkamp M, Nobili MD, Lin Q, Brookes PC (2011) Short term soil priming effects and the mineralization of biochar following its incorporation to soils of different pH. Soil Biol Biogeochem 43:2304–2314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Major J, Lehmann J, Rondon M, Goodale C (2010) Fate of soil-applied black carbon: downward migration, leaching and soil respiration. Glob Chang Biol 16:1366–1397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McHenry MP (2009) Agricultural bio-char production, renewable energy generation and farm carbon sequestration in Western Australia: certainty, uncertainty and risk. Agric Ecosyst Environ 129(1–3):1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller JJ, Sweetland NJ, Chang C (2002) Hydrological properties of a clay loam soil after long term cattle manure application. J Environ Qual 31:989–996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Novak JM, Lima I, Xing B, Gaskin JW, Steiner C, Das KC, Ahmedna M, Rehrah D, Watts DW, Busscher WJ, Schomberg H (2009a) Characterization of designer biochar produced at different temperatures and their effects on a loamy sand. Ann Environ Sci 3:195–206Google Scholar
  30. Novak JM, Busscher WJ, Laird DL, Ahmedna M, Watts DW, Niandou MAS (2009b) Impact of biochar amendment on fertility of a southeastern coastal plain soil. Soil Sci 174:105–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Oades J (1984) Soil organic matter and structural stability: mechanisms and implications for management. Plant Soil 76:319–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Obi ME, Ebo PO (1995) The effects of organic and inorganic amendments on soil physical properties and maize production in a severely degraded sandy soil in southern Nigeria. BioresourTechnol 51:117–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rawls WJ, Pachepsky YA, Ritchie JC, Sobecki TM, Bloodworth H (2003) Effect of soil organic carbon on soil water retention. Geoderma 116:61–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Saxton KE, Rawls WJ (2006) Soil water characteristic estimates by texture and organic matter for hydrologic solutions. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:1569–1578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Six J, Paustian K, Elliott ET, Combrink C (2000) Soil structure and organic matter: I. Distribution of aggregate-size classes and aggregate-associated carbon. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:681–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Six J, Bossuyt H, Degryze S, Denef K (2004) A history of research on the link between (micro) aggregates, soil biota, and soil organic matter dynamics. Soil Tillage Res 79:7–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Spokas KA, Koskinen WC, Baker JM, Reicosky DC (2009) Impacts of woodchip biochar additions on greenhouse gas production and sorption/degradation of two herbicides in a Minnesota soil. Chemosphere 77:574–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tang J, Mo Y, Zhang J, Zhang R (2011) Influence of biological aggregating agents associated with microbial population on soil aggregate stability. Appl Soil Ecol 47:153–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tisdall JM, Oades JM (1982) Organic matter and water-stable aggregates in soils. J Soil Sci 33:141–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Uzoma KC, Inoue M, Andry H, Fujimaki H, Zahoor A, Nishihara E (2011) Effect of cow manure biochar on maize productivity under sandy soil condition. Soil Use Manag 27:205–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. van Genuchten MT (1980) A closed form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:892–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vance ED, Brookes PC, Jenkinson DS (1987) An extraction method for measuring microbial biomass C. Soil Biol Biochem 19:703–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Verheijen F, Jeffery S, Bastos AC, van der Velde M, Diafas I (2009) Biochar application to soils. A critical scientific review of effects on soil properties, processes and functions. Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxemburgGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhang A, Bian R, Pan G, Cui L, Hussain Q, Li L, Zheng J, Zheng J, Zhang X, Han X, Yu X (2012) Effects of biochar amendment on soil quality, crop yield and greenhouse gas emission in a Chinese rice paddy: a field study of 2 consecutive rice growing cycles. Field Crop Res 127:153–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Environmental Pollution Control and Remediation Technology, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations