Brazil is the world’s greatest charcoal producer with an annual production of 10 million tons. However, about 15 % is lost as charcoal fines, which can be used as soil fertilizer and source of soil stable carbon (C). In this study we, investigated the impact of charcoal fines application on soil chemical properties and organic matter (SOM) stability and composition.
Materials and methods
Four doses (0, control, 10, 20 and 40 Mg ha−1) of charcoal fines were incorporated to the soil at 10 cm. Soil samples were collected at four soil depths (0–5, 5–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm) 20 months after charcoal incorporation. Soil chemical properties were determined, and SOM composition was evaluated by infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDX) and carbon stable isotopic analysis.
Results and discussion
Soil chemical properties were affected mainly in the upper depth (0–5 cm) and only at the highest dose (40 Mg ha−1), which also increased the total C content in 37.7 % compared to the control. Probably, the observed effects solely on the surface are due the concentration of charcoal on the upper depth, despite its incorporation. The dose of 40 Mg ha−1 also increased the total C content at 10–20 cm depth compared to the control. Such result was assigned to the leaching of some finest charcoal particles. The SEM-EDX and SOM δ13C signature confirmed the presence of charcoal at both 0–5 and 10–20 cm soil depths. FTIR and TGA indicated an increase in SOM aromaticity and thermostability until 20 cm depth after charcoal incorporation. No effects were observed at the deepest soil depth (20–30 cm), suggesting that charcoal was not leached to this depth within 20 months.
The application of charcoal fines ameliorated the soil chemical properties. In general, the charcoal increased the SOM aromaticity and thermostability and changed the δ13C signature at 0–5 and 10–20 cm. Charcoal leaching from the 0–10 to the 10–20 cm depth was observed, but further downward transport was not evidenced by our data. Charcoal fine residues show a potential to be used as an effective soil fertilizer, as well as a stable C source into the soil.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Abiven S, Hengartner P, Scheneider MPW, Singh N, Schmidt MWI (2011) Pyrogenic carbon soluble fraction is larger and more aromatic in aged charcoal than in fresh charcoal. Soil Biol Biochem 43:1615–1617
Angelo LC, Mangrich AS, Mantovani KM, Santos SS (2014) Loading of VO2+ and Cu2+ to partially oxidized charcoal fines rejected from Brazilian metallurgical industry. J Soils Sediments 14:353–359
Bauer MO, Gomide JA, Silva EAM, Regazzi AJ, Chichorro JF (2008) Anatomical evaluation and nutritive value of four prevailing forage grasses in natural pasture of Viçosa-MG. Rev Bras Zootec 37:9–17
Benites VM, Mendonça ES, Schaefer CEGR, Novotny EH, Reis EL, Ker JC (2005) Properties of black soil humic acids from high altitude rocky complexes in Brazil. Geoderma 127:104–113
Bernoux M, Cerri CC, Neill C, Moraes JFL (1998) The use of stable carbon isotopes for estimating soil organic matter turnover rates. Geoderma 82:43–48
Biederman LA, Harpole WS (2013) Biochar and its effects on plant productivity and nutrient cycling: a meta-analysis. Global Change Biol Bioenergy 5:202–214
Cambardella CA, Elliot ET (1992) Particulate soil organic matter changes across a grassland cultivation sequence. Soil Sci Soc Am J 56:777–783
Cao X, Harris W (2010) Properties of dairy-manure-derived biochar pertinent to its potential use in remediation. Bioresour Technol 101:5222–5228
Chefetz B, Hatchier PG, Hadar Y, Chen Y (1996) Chemical and biological characterization of organic matter during composting of municipal solid waste. J Environ Qual 25:776–785
Critter SAM, Airoldi C (2006) Thermal analysis of Brazilian tropical soils originating from different sources. J Brazil Chem Soc 17:1250–1258
Dai Z, Meng J, Muhammad N, Liu X, Wang H, He Y, Brookes PC, Xu J (2013) The potential feasibility for soil improvement, based on the properties of biochars pyrolyzed from different feedstocks. J Soils Sediments 13:989–1000
De La Rosa JM, Knicker H, López-Capel E, Manning DCA, González-Pérez JA, González-Vila FJ (2008) Direct detection of black Carbon in Soils by Py-GC/MS, carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy and thermogravimetric techniques. Soil Sci Soc Am J 72:258–267
Dick DP, Martinazzo R, Dalmolin RSD, Jaques AVA, Mielniczuk J, Rosa AS (2008a) Impacto da queima nos atributos químicos do solo, na composição da matéria orgânica e na vegetação. Pesq Agrop Brasileira 43:633–640
Dick DP, Silva LB, Inda AV, Knicker H (2008b) Estudo comparativo da matéria orgânica de diferentes classes de solos de altitude do Sul do Brasil por técnicas convencionais e espectroscópicas. Rev Bras C Solo 32:2289–2296
Dieckow J, Mielniczuk J, Knicker H, Bayer C, Dick DP, Kögel-Knabner I (2005) Composition of organic matter in a subtropical Acrisol as influenced by land use cropping and N fertilization, assessed by CPMAS 13C NMR spectroscopy. Eur J Soil Sci 56:705–715
Embrapa (1997) Manual de métodos de análise de solo. Embrapa-CNPS, Rio de Janeiro
Enders A, Hanley K, Whitman T, Joseph S, Lehmann J (2012) Characterization of biochars to evaluate recalcitrance and agronomic performance. Bioresour Technol 114:644–653
FAO (2006) World reference base for soils resources. World Soil No. 103. Rome, Italy
Glaser B, Balashov E, Haumaier L, Guggenberger G, Zech W (2000) Black carbon in density fractions of anthropogenic soils of the Brazilian Amazon region. Org Geochem 31:669–678
Gonçalves CN, Dalmolin RSD, Dick DP, Knicker H, Klamt E, Kögel-Knabner I (2003) The effect of 10 % HF treatment on the resolution of CPMAS 13C NMR spectra and on the quality of organic matter in Ferrasols. Geoderma 116:373–392
Henn MR, Chapela IH (2000) Differential C isotope discrimination by fungi during decomposition of C3 and C4-derived sucrose. Appl Environ Microbiol 66:4180–4186
Hilscher A, Knicker H (2011) Degradation of grass-derived pyrogenic organic material, transport of the residues within a soil column and distribution in soil organic matter fractions during a 28 month microcosm experiment. Org Geochem 42:42–54
Keiluweit M, Nico PS, Johnson MG, Kleber M (2010) Dynamic molecular Structure of plant biomass-derived black carbon (biochar). Environ Sci Technol 44:1247–1253
Knicker H, Almendros G, González-Vila FJ, González-Pérez JA, Polvillo O (2006) Characteristic alterations of quantity and quality of soil organic matter caused by forest fires in continental Mediterranean ecosystems: a solid-state 13C NMR study. Eur J Soil Sci 57:558–569
Knicker H, Hilscher A, González-Vila FJ, Almendros G (2008) A new conceptual model for the structural properties of char produced during vegetation fires. Org Geochem 39:935–939
Knicker H, Nikolova R, Dick DP, Dalmolin RSD (2012) Alteration of quality and stability of organic matter in grassland soils of Southern Brazil highlands after ceasing biannual burning. Geoderma 181–182:11–21
Knicker H, González-Vila FJ, González-Vásquez R (2013) Biodegradability of organic matter in fire-affected mineral soils of Southern Spain. Soil Biol Biochem 56:31–39
Kuzyakov Y, Bogomolova I, Glaser B (2014) Biochar stability in soil: decomposition during eight years and transformation as assessed by compound-specific 14C analysis. Soil Biol Biochem 70:229–236
Laird DA, Chappell MA, Martens DA, Wershaw RL, Thompson M (2008) Distinguishing black carbon from biogenic humic substances in soil clay fractions. Geoderma 143:115–122
Leifeld J (2007) Thermal stability of black carbon characterised by oxidative differential scanning calorimetry. Org Geochem 38:112–127
Liang BJ, Lehmann D, Solomon J, Kinyangi J, Grossman B, O’Neill JO, Skjemstad J, Thies FJ, Luizão J, Petersen J, Neves EG (2006) Black carbon increases cation exchange capacity in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:1719–1730
Maia CMBF, Madari BE, Novotny EH (2011) Advances in biochar research in Brazil. Dyn Soil Dyn Plant 5:53–58
Miltner A, Kopinke FD, Kindler R, Selesi D, Hartmann A, Kastner M (2005) Non-phototrophic CO2 fixation by soil microorganisms. Plant Soil 269:193–203
Muccio Z, Jackson JP (2009) Isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Roy Soc Chem. doi:10.1039/b808232d
Novak JM, Busscher WJ, Laird DL, Ahmedna M, Watts DW, Niandou MAS (2009) Impact of biochar amendment on fertility of a Southeastern Coastal Plain soil. Soil Sci 174:105–112
O’Leary MH (1981) Carbon isotope fractionation in plants. Phytochemistry 20:553–567
Paz-Ferreiro J, Shenglei F, Méndez A, Gascó G (2014) Interactive effects of biochar and the earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus on plant productivity and soil enzyme and soil enzyme activities. J Soils Sediments 14:483–494
Pennise DM, Smith KR, Kithinji JP, Rezende ME, Raad TJ, Zhang J, Fan C (2001) Emissions of greenhouse gases and other airbone pollutants from charcoal making in Kenya and Brazil. J Geophys Res 106:143–155
Petter FA, Madari BE, Silva MAS, Carneiro MAC, Carvalho MTM, Marimon BH, Pacheco LP (2012) Soil fertility and upland rice yield after biochar application in the Cerrado. Pesq Agrop Brasileira 47:699–706
Potes ML, Dick DP, Santana GS, Tomazy M, Bayer C (2012) Soil organic matter in fire‑affected pastures and in an Araucaria forest in South‑Brazilian Leptosols. Pesq Agrop Brasileira 47:707–715
Schulze ED, Turner NC, Nicolle D, Schumacher J (2006) Leaf and wood carbon isotope ratios, specific leaf areas and wood growth of Eucalyptus species across a rainfall gradient in Australia. Tree Physiol 26:479–492
Steinbeiss S, Gleixner G, Antonietti M (2009) Effect of biochar amendment on soil carbon balance and soil microbial activity. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1301–1310
Steiner C, Teixeira WG, Lehmann J, Nehls T, Macêdo JLV, Blum WEH, Zech W (2007) Long term effects of manure, charcoal and mineral fertilization on crop production and fertility on a highly weathered Central Amazonian upland soil. Plant Soil 291:275–290
Tan KH (2003) Humic matter in soil and the environment principles and controversies. Marcel Dekker, New York
Tedesco MJ, Gianello C, Bissani CA, Bohnen H, Volkweiss SJ (1995) Análise de solos, plantas e outros materiais. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre
Verheijen FGA, Montanarella L, Bastos AC (2012) Sustainability, certification, and regulation of biochar. Pesq Agrop Brasileira 47:649–653
Wang X, Liu F, Tan W, Li W, Feng X, Sparks D (2013) Characteristics of phosphate Adsorption–Desorption onto ferrihydrite: comparison with well-crystalline Fe (hydr)oxides. Soil Sci 178:1–11
Zanetti M, Cazetta JO, Júnior DM, Carvalho SA (2003) The use of byproducts of vegetal charcoal on growth of ‘Rangpur’ lime rootstock under screen house. Rev Bras Frutic 25:508–512
Zimmerman AR, Gao B, Ahn MY (2011) Positive and negative carbon mineralization priming effects among a variety of biochar-amended soils. Soil Biol Biochem 43:1169–1179
The authors are grateful to the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development-CNPq (Brazil) and Coordination for the improvement of Higher Education Personnel-Capes (Brazil) for the research fellowship and to the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), State University of Centro-Oeste (Brazil), and Institute for Natural Resources and Agrobiology (Spain) for support this project. This work has been also partly funded by MINECO and the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) through the project GEOFIRE (ref. CGL2012-268 38655-C04-01) and the bilateral project 2011BR0097.
Responsible editor: Frank G. A. Verheijen
About this article
Cite this article
Leal, O.d.A., Dick, D.P., Lombardi, K.C. et al. Soil chemical properties and organic matter composition of a subtropical Cambisol after charcoal fine residues incorporation. J Soils Sediments 15, 805–815 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-014-1040-z
- Carbon stable isotope ratio
- Infrared spectroscopy
- Organic matter thermostability
- Scanning electron microscopy
- Soil fertilizer