Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 9662–9672 | Cite as

Incorporation of corn straw biochar inhibited the re-acidification of four acidic soils derived from different parent materials

  • Ren-yong Shi
  • Jiu-yu Li
  • Jun Jiang
  • Muhammad Aqeel Kamran
  • Ren-kou Xu
  • Wei Qian
Research Article


The effect of corn straw biochar on inhibiting the re-acidification of acid soils derived from different parent materials due to increased soil pH buffering capacity (pHBC) was investigated using indoor incubation and simulated acidification experiments. The incorporation of the biochar increased the pHBC of all four soils due to the increase in soil cation exchange capacity (CEC). When 5% biochar was incorporated, the pHBC was increased by 62, 27, 32, and 24% for the Ultisols derived from Tertiary red sandstone, Quaternary red earth, granite, and the Oxisol derived from basalt, respectively. Ca(OH)2 and the biochar were added to adjust the soil pH to the same values, and then HNO3 was added to acidify these amended soils. The results of this simulated acidification indicated that the decrease in soil pH induced by HNO3 was lower for the treatments with the biochar added than that of the treatments with Ca(OH)2 added. Consequently, the biochar could inhibit the re-acidification of the amended acid soils due to the increased resistance of the soils to acidification when the pH of amended soil was higher than 5.5. The inhibiting effectiveness of the biochar on soil re-acidification was greater in the Ultisol derived from Tertiary red sandstone due to its lower clay and organic matter contents and CEC than the other three soils. The incorporation of the biochar also decreased the potentially reactive Al, i.e., exchangeable Al, organically bound Al, and sorbed hydroxyl Al, compared with the treatments amended with Ca(OH)2. Therefore, the incorporation of corn straw biochar not only inhibited the re-acidification of amended acid soils through increasing their resistance to acidification but also decreased the potential of Al toxicity generated during re-acidification.


Corn straw biochar Acidic soil pH buffering capacity Soil re-acidification Potential reactive Al pool 



This study was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (Grant Number 2014CB441003) and the National Key Research and Development of China (Grant Number 2016YFD0200302).


  1. Aitken RL (1992) Relationships between extractable Al, selected soil properties, pH buffer capacity and lime requirement in some acidic Queensland soils. Aust J Soil Res 30(2):119–130. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beesley L, Moreno-Jiménez E, Gomez-Eyles JL, Harris E, Robinson B, Sizmur T (2011) A review of biochars’ potential role in the remediation, revegetation and restoration of contaminated soils. Environ Pollut 159(12):3269–3282. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brady NC, Weil RR (2010) Elements of the nature and properties of soils. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowman WD, Cleveland CC, Halada Ĺ, Hreško J, Baron JS (2008) Negative impact of nitrogen deposition on soil buffering capacity. Nat Geosci 1(11):767–770. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caputo J, Beier CM, Sullivan TJ, Lawrence GB (2016) Modeled effects of soil acidification on long-term ecological and economic outcomes for managed forests in the Adirondack region (USA). Sci Total Environ 565:401–411. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen D, Lan Z, Bai X, Grace JB, Bai Y (2013) Evidence that acidification-induced declines in plant diversity and productivity are mediated by changes in below-ground communities and soil properties in a semi-arid steppe. J Ecol 101(5):1322–1334. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen Z, Xiao X, Chen B, Zhu L (2015) Quantification of chemical states, dissociation constants and contents of oxygen-containing groups on the surface of biochars produced at different temperatures. Environ Sci Technol 49(1):309–317. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chun Y, Sheng GY, Chiou CT, Xing BS (2004) Compositions and sorptive properties of crop residue-derived chars. Environ Sci Technol 38(17):4649–4655. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dai Z, Zhang X, Tang C, Muhammad N, Wu J, Brookes PC, Xu J (2017) Potential role of biochars in decreasing soil acidification—a critical review. Sci Total Environ 581-582:601–611. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dang T, Mosley LM, Fitzpatrick R, Marschner P (2016) Organic materials retain high proportion of protons, iron and aluminium from acid sulphate soil drainage water with little subsequent release. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(23):23582–23592. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Driscoll CT, Driscoll KM, Fakhraei H, Civerolo K (2016) Long-term temporal trends and spatial patterns in the acid-base chemistry of lakes in the Adirondack region of New York in response to decreases in acidic deposition. Atmos Environ 146:5–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gaskin JW, Steiner C, Harris K, Das KC, Bibens B (2008) Effect of low-temperature pyrolysis conditions on biochar for agricultural use. T ASABE 51(6):2061–2069. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gaskin JW, Speir RA, Harris K, Das KC, Lee RD, Morris LA, Fisher DS (2010) Effect of peanut hull and pine chip biochar on soil nutrients, corn nutrient status, and yield. Agron J 102(2):623–633. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gu B, Ju X, Chang J, Ge Y, Vitousek PM (2015) Integrated reactive nitrogen budgets and future trends in China. P Natl Acad Sci USA 112(28):8792–8797. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Guo JH, Liu XJ, Zhang Y, Shen JL, Han WX, Zhang WF, Christie P, Goulding KW, Vitousek PM, Zhang FS (2010) Significant acidification in major Chinese croplands. Science 327(5968):1008–1010. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Inyang M, Gao B, Pullammanappallil P, Ding W, Zimmerman AR (2010) Biochar from anaerobically digested sugarcane bagasse. Bioresour Technol 101(22):8868–8872. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jiang J, Xu RK (2013) Application of crop straw derived biochars to Cu (II) contaminated Ultisol: evaluating role of alkali and organic functional groups in Cu (II) immobilization. Bioresour Technol 133:537–545. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jiang J, Yuan M, Xu RK, Bish DL (2015) Mobilization of phosphate in variable-charge soils amended with biochars derived from crop straws. Soil Till Res 146:139–147. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jiang J, Dai Z, Sun R, Zhao Z, Dong Y, Hong Z, Xu R (2017) Evaluation of ferrolysis in arsenate adsorption on the paddy soil derived from an Oxisol. Chemosphere 179:232–241. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kochian LV, Pineros MA, Hoekenga OA (2005) The physiology, genetics and molecular biology of plant aluminum resistance and toxicity. Plant Soil 274(1-2):175–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koide RT, Petprakob K, Peoples M (2011) Quantitative analysis of biochar in field soil. Soil Biol Biochem 43(7):1563–1568. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lawrence GB, Hazlett PW, Fernandez IJ, Ouimet R, Bailey SW, Shortle WC, Smith KT, Antidormi MR (2015) Declining acidic deposition begins reversal of forest-soil acidification in the northeastern US and eastern Canada. Environ Sci Technol 49(22):13103–13111. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee JW, Kidder M, Evans BR, Paik S, Iii ACB, Garten CT, Brown RC (2010) Characterization of biochars produced from cornstovers for soil amendment. Environ Sci Technol 44(20):7970–7974. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li JY, Xu RK (2007) Adsorption of phthalic acid and salicylic acid and their effect on exchangeable Al capacity of variable-charge soils. J Colloid Interf Sci 306(1):3–10. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li JY, Liu ZD, Zhao WZ, Masud MM, Xu RK (2015) Alkaline slag is more effective than phosphogypsum in the amelioration of subsoil acidity in an Ultisol profile. Soil Till Res 149:21–32. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Li JY, Wang N, Xu RK, Tiwari D (2010) Potential of industrial byproducts in ameliorating acidity and aluminum toxicity of soils under tea plantation. Pedosphere 20(5):645–654. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liang B, Lehmann J, Solomon D, Kinyangi J, Grossman J, O'neill B, Thies JK, Luizão FJ, Petersen J, Neves EG (2006) Black carbon increases cation exchange capacity in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70(5):1719–1730. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Liu X, Song L, He C, Zhang F (2010) Nitrogen deposition as an important nutrient from the environment and its impact on ecosystems in China. J Arid Land 2(2):137–143. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Masud MM, Guo D, Li JY, Xu RK (2014a) Hydroxyl release by maize (Zea mays L.) roots under acidic conditions due to nitrate absorption and its potential to ameliorate an acidic Ultisol. J Soils Sediments 14(5):845–853. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Masud MM, Li JY, Xu RK (2014b) The use of alkaline slag and crop residue biochars to promote base saturation and reduce soil acidity in an acidic Ultisol. Pedosphere 24(6):791–798. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mehmood K, Li JY, Jiang J, Shi RY, Liu ZD, Xu RK (2017) Amelioration of an acidic Ultisol by straw-derived biochars combined with dicyandiamide under application of urea. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24(7):6698–6709. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Moody PW, Aitken RL (1997) Soil acidification under some tropical agricultural systems. I. Rates of acidification and contributing factors. Aust J Soil Res 35(1):163–173. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nelson PN, Su N (2010) Soil pH buffering capacity: a descriptive function and its application to some acidic tropical soils. Aust J Soil Res 48:210–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nguyen TTN, Xu CY, Tahmasbian I, Che RX, Xu ZH, Zhou XH, Wallace HM, Bai SH (2017) Effects of biochar on soil available inorganic nitrogen: a review and meta-analysis. Geoderma 288:79–96. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pansu M, Gautheyrou J (2006) Handbook of soil analysis: mineralogical, organic and inorganic methods. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Prendergast-Miller MT, Duvall M, Sohi SP (2011) Localisation of nitrate in the rhizosphere of biochar-amended soils. Soil Biol Biochem 43(11):2243–2246. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Qian LB, Chen BL (2013) Dual role of biochars as adsorbents for aluminum: the effects of oxygen-containing organic components and the scattering of silicate particles. Environ Sci Technol 47(15):8759–8768. Google Scholar
  38. Qian LB, Chen BL, Hu DF (2013) Effective alleviation of aluminum phytotoxicity by manure-derived biochar. Environ Sci Technol 47(6):2737–2745. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Qian LB, Chen BL (2014) Interactions of aluminum with biochars and oxidized biochars: implications for the biochar aging process. J Agric Food Chem 62(2):373–380. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shi RY, Li JY, Xu RK, Qian W (2016) Ameliorating effects of individual and combined application of biomass ash, bone meal and alkaline slag on acid soils. Soil Till Res 162:41–45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shi RY, Hong ZN, Li JY, Jiang J, Abdulaha-Al Baquy M, Xu RK, Qian W (2017) Mechanisms for increasing the pH buffering capacity of an acidic Ultisol by crop residue-derived biochars. J Agric Food Chem 65(37):8111–8119. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sohi SP, Krull E, Lopez-Capel E, Bol R (2010) A review of biochar and its use and function in soil. Adv Agron 105:47–82. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Weaver AR, Kissel DE, Chen F, West T, Adkins W, Rickman D, Luvall JC (2004) Mapping soil pH buffering capacity of selected fields in the coastal plain. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68(2):662–668. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Woolf D, Amonette JE, Street-Peroott FA, Lehmann J, Joseph S (2010) Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change. Nat Commun 1:56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Xu RK, Ji GL (2001) Effects of H2SO4 and HNO3 on soil acidification and aluminum speciation in variable and constant charge soils. Water Air Soil Pollut 129(1/4):33–43. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Xu RK, Zhao AZ, Yuan JH, Jiang J (2012) pH buffering capacity of acid soils from tropical and subtropical regions of China as influenced by incorporation of crop straw biochars. J Soils Sediments 12(4):494–502. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xu RK, Zhao AZ (2013) Effect of biochars on adsorption of Cu (II), Pb(II) and Cd(II) by three variable charge soils from southern China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20(12):8491–8501. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yuan JH, Xu RK (2011) The amelioration effects of low temperature biochar generated from nine crop residues on an acidic Ultisol. Soil Use Manage 27(1):110–115. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yuan JH, Xu RK, Zhang H (2011a) The forms of alkalis in the biochar produced from crop residues at different temperatures. Bioresour Technol 102(3):3488–3497. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yuan JH, Xu RK, Qian W, Wang RH (2011b) Comparison of the ameliorating effects on an acidic Ultisol between four crop straws and their biochars. J Soils Sediments 11(5):741–750. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhao X, Wang SQ, Xing GX (2014) Nitrification, acidification, and nitrogen leaching from subtropical cropland soils as affected by rice straw-based biochar: laboratory incubation and column leaching studies. J Soil Sediments 14(3):471–482. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhang HM, Wang BR, Xu MG, Fan TL (2009) Crop yield and soil responses to long-term fertilization on a red soil in southern China. Pedosphere 19(2):199–207. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhu HH, Chen C, Xu C, Zhu QH, Huang DY (2016) Effects of soil acidification and liming on the phytoavailability of cadmium in paddy soils of central subtropical China. Environ Pollut 219:99–106. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ren-yong Shi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiu-yu Li
    • 1
  • Jun Jiang
    • 1
  • Muhammad Aqeel Kamran
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ren-kou Xu
    • 1
  • Wei Qian
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations