Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1432–1440 | Cite as

Biochar and biochar with N fertilizer as a potential tool for improving soil sorption of nutrients

  • Vladimír Šimanský
  • Ján Horák
  • Dušan Igaz
  • Eugen Balashov
  • Jerzy Jonczak
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Biochar usually has a large specific surface area, and due to this, it increases the sorption capacity of the soil where it was applied. The objectives of this study were to (i) quantify the effects of biochar and biochar in combination with N fertilizer on the soil sorption parameters and (ii) quantify the effects of soil organic matter on the sorption parameters after application of biochar with and without N fertilizer.

Materials and methods

The experiment was established on Haplic Luvisol at the locality of Dolná Malanta (Slovakia) in 2014. The soil samples were collected once a month from the depth 0–0.2 m during 2014 to 2016. The field experiment included three rates of biochar application (B0 = no biochar, B10 = biochar at the rate of 10 t ha−1, B20 = biochar at the rate of 20 t ha−1) and three levels of N fertilization (N0 = no nitrogen, N40 = nitrogen at the rate of 40 kg ha−1, N80 = nitrogen at the rate of 80 kg ha−1).

Results and discussion

Overall, the decrease of the average values of hydrolytic acidity due to biochar and biochar combined with N fertilization resulted on average in an increase of sum of basic cation (SBC), cation exchange capacity (CEC), and sorption capacity of soil organic matter (CECSOM) in all treatments. However, this effect was the most intensive in B10N40. Despite the fact that the average values of sorption parameters improved, its dynamics during the investigated period were different. A significant decrease in CEC was observed from 2014 to 2016 in all treatments, except B0N0 and B10N0. A stable trend in CECSOM was observed only in B10N40. Humic substances and humic acids had a statistically significant positive effect on the SBC, CEC, and CECSOM only in B20N0 treatment. Negative correlations between the above mentioned parameters were observed in B10N80 treatment.


We conclude that the application of biochar and biochar combined with N fertilization had a positive influence on sorption parameters. However, its effects on SBC, CEC, and CECSOM decreased over time after its application.


Biochar Cation exchange capacity Hydrolytic acidity Soil organic matter Sorption capacity of organic matter 



The authors very much thank Danny Angus (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Dr. Brent Clothier (Science Group Leader, Systems Modeling Plant & Food Research, Palmersto North, New Zealand), and prof. Wayne S Meyer (Professor of Natural Resource Science, University of Adelaide, Ecology and Environmental Science, Waite Campus, PMB 1 Glen Osmond, South Australia) for improving the English text and constructive comments also the editor and reviewers, for constructive comments. This study was supported by the Slovak Grant Agency VEGA, No. 1/0136/17, KEGA, No. 026SPU-4/2017 and Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract No. APVV-15-0160.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agrobiology and Food ResourcesSlovak University of AgricultureNitraSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Biometeorology and Hydrology, Horticulture and Landscape Engineering FacultySlovak University of Agriculture in NitraNitraSlovakia
  3. 3.Agrophysical Research InstituteSt. PetersburgRussia
  4. 4.Department of Soil Environment SciencesWarsaw University of Life SciencesWarsawPoland

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