The fate of phosphorus of ash-rich biochars in a soil-plant system
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The objectives were to investigate (i) the forms and release pattern of P from an ash-rich biochar-amended sandy soil; (ii) the transformation of biochar P in a soil-plant system.
Several methodologies (a bioassay test, soluble P extractions, a sequential P fractionation and successive P extractions via resin strips) were used to study the bioavailability and transformation of P in a sandy soil fertilised with either conventional P fertilisers [Ca(H2PO4)2 (CaP) and Sechura phosphate rock (SPR)] or biochars produced from cattle manure (MAe) and alum-treated biosolids (BSe) at four temperatures (250, 350, 450, and 550 °C).
Biochar P mainly contributed to increase soil resin-extractable P- and inorganic NaOH-extractable P-fractions, and thus to plant available P. The decrease in P concentrations of those fractions was caused by the uptake of P by plants rather than their transformations into more stable forms. P release rates diminished following the order: CaP > MAe > BSe > SPR, which indicates a decline in P availability from these P sources.
Phosphorus-rich biochar can be used as a slow-release fertiliser. It is necessary to determine available P (either soil or fertiliser tests) in biochars prior to its application to soil, so that dose, frequency and timing of application are correctly established.
KeywordsP fractionation Biochar Bioavailability Transformation
The authors acknowledge T. Maruyama for assistance in soil P tests; Dr J. Hanly provided the manure sample; Dr. P. Bishop helped to set up the pyrolyser; Palmerston North City Council supplied the biosolids; the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry New Zealand (MAF) funded the research; and Massey University funded a fellowship for T.W.
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