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Optimising water holding capacity and hydrophobicity of biochar for soil amendment – A review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-09, 01:00 authored by Sirjana AdhikariSirjana Adhikari, Wendy TimmsWendy Timms, MAP Mahmud
Biochar is a product of the thermal treatment of biomass, and it can be used for enhancing soil health and productivity, soil carbon sequestration, absorbance of pollutants from water and soil, and promoting environmental sustainability. Extensive research has been done on applications of biochar to enhance the Water Holding Capacity (WHC) of biochar amended soil. However, a comprehensive road map of biochar optimised for enhanced WHC, and reduced hydrophobicity is not yet published. This review is the first to provide not only quantitative information on the impacts of biochar properties in WHC and hydrophobicity, but also a road map to optimise biochar for enhanced WHC when applied as a soil amendment. The review shows that straw or grass-derived biochar (at 500–600 °C) increases the WHC of soil if applied at 1 to 3 % in the soil. It is clear from the review that soil of varying texture requires different particle sizes of biochar to enhance the WHC and reduce hydrophobicity. Furthermore, the review concludes that ageing biochar for at least a year with enhanced oxidation is recommended for improving the WHC and reducing hydrophobicity compared to using biochar immediately after production. Additionally, while producing biochar a residence time of 1 to 2 h is recommended to reduce the biochar's hydrophobicity. Finally, a road map for optimising biochar is presented as a schematic that can be a resource for making decisions during biochar production for soil amendment.



Science of the Total Environment



Article number

ARTN 158043









Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


Pt 1