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J Environ Qual. 2013 Mar-Apr;42(2):545-52. doi: 10.2134/jeq2012.0232.

Mineral constituents profile of biochar derived from diversified waste biomasses: implications for agricultural applications.


The wide distribution and high heterogeneity of different elements in biochars derived from diverse feedstocks make it difficult to regulate their application in soil and to evaluate the maximum potential contribution of the nutrients and trace metals as well as the potential risk of toxic metals. This study classified 20 biochars, covering six typical categories, into three clusters according to their similarity and distance on nutrients and minerals using cluster analysis. Four principle components (PC) were extracted using factor analysis to reduce dimension and clearly characterize the mineral profile of these biochars. The contribution of each group of elements in the PCs to every cluster was clarified. PC1 had a high loading for Mg, Cu, Zn, Al, and Fe; PC2 was related to N, K, and Mn; and PC3 and PC4 mainly represented P and Ca. Cluster 1 included bone dregs and eggshell biochars with PC3 and PC4 as the main contributors. Cluster 2 included waterweeds and waste paper biochars, which were close to shrimp hull and chlorella biochars, with the main contributions being from PC2 and PC4. Cluster 3 included biochars with PC1 as the main contributor. At a soil biochar amendment rate of 50 t ha, the soil nutrients were significantly elevated, whereas the rise in toxic metals was negligible compared with Class I of the China Environmental Quality Standards for Soil. Biochar can potentially supply soil nutrients and trace metals, and different cluster biochars can be applied appropriately to different soils so that excessive or deficient nutrient and metal applications can be avoided.

Copyright © by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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