Potentially hazardous element accumulation in rice tissues and their availability in soil systems after biochar amendments

  • Feng Jing
  • Zhijiang Yang
  • Xiaomin ChenEmail author
  • Wei Liu
  • Bilin Guo
  • Gaozhe Lin
  • Ronghui Huang
  • Wenxin Liu
Soils, Sec 3 • Remediation and Management of Contaminated or Degraded Lands • Research Article



Biochar has shown to be a great product to control the bioavailability of potentially hazardous elements (PHE) in contaminated soils. Despite the advantages associated with the application of biochar in agricultural soils, relatively few studies have focused on the effects of biochar amendments on soil chemical properties, accumulation of arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and lead in rice tissues, and their availability in soil systems.

Materials and methods

The field experiment was conducted at the paddy soils in Hunan Province, China. The soil texture was sandy clay loam. Wheat-derived biochar was applied once to the experimental plots at the rates of 0, 10, 20, 30 and 40 t ha−1, and referenced as A0, A10, A20, A30, and A40, respectively. For PHE determination, soil samples and plant samples were digested with a mixed solution of HCl:HNO3 (4:1, V:V) and HCl:HClO4 (4:1, V:V), respectively, and the arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and lead in the digest solution were measured by ICP-MS (Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA). The soil available fraction of PHE (arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and lead) was extracted by diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) and measured by inductively ICP-MS.

Results and discussion

Biochar amendment increased chemical properties of soil organic matter, pH, electrical conductivity, cation exchange capacity, nitrate nitrogen, and available phosphorus. Soil DTPA extractable arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and lead concentrations were significantly reduced. Arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and lead in rice shoots, and arsenic, cadmium, and zinc in roots significantly decreased after amendment. Concentrations in rice tissues positively and negatively correlated with the soil available fraction of PHE and soil chemical properties, respectively. Soil electrical conductivity negatively correlated with the soil available fraction of PHE. Concentrations of arsenic, zinc, cadmium, and lead in rice roots declined relative to increases of cation exchange capacity (arsenic, zinc), available phosphorus (cadmium), and nitric nitrogen (lead) content. Similar relationships were observed between cation exchange capacity and PHE in shoots.


Biochar creates avoidance of PHE through regulating chemical properties through biochar sorption capacity. Cation exchange capacity, available phosphorus, and nitric nitrogen were the principle factors affecting roots uptake of arsenic, zinc, cadmium, and lead. Biochar soluble salts could decline availability of metals/metalloids in soils through precipitation. Wheat-derived biochar application is an alternative safe product to immobilize PHE in rice paddy soils by restricting the risk of PHE.


Bioavailability Biochar Potentially hazardous elements Rice tissues Soil chemical properties 



The authors sincerely thank Dr. Craig Clark (Western Kentucky University, for his help in the improvement of this paper. We also wish to express our thanks to anonymous reviewers for providing useful comments to improve the paper.

Funding information

This study is supported by the project “Source Identification and Contamination Characteristics of Heavy Metals in Agricultural Land and Products” (2016YFD0800306), the National Key Research and Development Program of China, and Postgraduate Research & Practice Innovation Program of Jiangsu Province (KYCX18_0679).

Supplementary material

11368_2019_2296_MOESM1_ESM.doc (980 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 980 kb).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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