Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 1249–1259 | Cite as

Effect of biochar on heavy metal immobilization and uptake by lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) in agricultural soil

  • Hyuck-Soo Kim
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
  • Ho-Jin Kim
  • Jung-Hwan Yoon
  • Jae E. Yang
  • Yong Sik Ok
  • Gary Owens
  • Kye-Hoon KimEmail author
Original Article


Many remediation options have been applied to the heavy metal-contaminated agricultural soils nearby abandoned mining sites mainly due to hazard effects of heavy metals to human through agricultural crop dietary. Hence, the current study was carried to examine the heavy metal immobilizing effect of biochar produced from rice hull and subsequent heavy metal uptake by lettuce. Rice hull biochar was incorporated into a heavy metal-contaminated upland soil at six application rates (0, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, and 10 % (v/v)) and soil biochar mixtures were examined using both incubation and pot trials for cultivation of lettuce. Incubation studies showed that biochar incorporation induced significant declines (>80 %) in the phytoavailable metal pool as assessed via 1 M NH4NO3 extraction, possibly due to increased heavy metal adsorption onto the applied biochar and increases in soil pH. Similar results were also observed in pot trials, where the uptake of heavy metals by lettuce was significantly reduced as biochar application rate increased. Despite the significant decline in soil phytoavailable metal pools, lettuce growth still declined as biochar application rate increased. This was attributed to the adsorption of available nitrogen on to the biochar resulting in nitrogen deficiency. Therefore, when the biochar is used for metal immobilization in agricultural soils, maintaining soil nutrient status should be also considered to ensure optimum growth of the crop plants besides metal immobilization rate.


Charcoal Black carbon Soil ameliorant Plant availability Immobilization 



This study was financially supported by the EI project (project No. 2012000210003), Ministry of Environment, Korea. Dr Gary Owens gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship Scheme (grant number FT120100799) for funding his salary.

Supplementary material

12665_2015_4116_MOESM1_ESM.docx (690 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 689 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyuck-Soo Kim
    • 1
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
    • 2
  • Ho-Jin Kim
    • 3
  • Jung-Hwan Yoon
    • 1
  • Jae E. Yang
    • 4
  • Yong Sik Ok
    • 4
  • Gary Owens
    • 5
  • Kye-Hoon Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental HorticultureUniversity of SeoulSeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant ResourcesGyeongnam National University of Science and TechnologyJinjuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.4EN Research InstituteSeoulRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Korea Biochar Research Center and Department of Biological EnvironmentKangwon National UniversityChuncheonRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Environmental Contaminants Group, Mawson InstituteUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakesAustralia

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