Biochar as a Soil Amendment

Introduction- Biochar is a carbon-rich organic material, an organic amendment, and a by-product derived from biomass by pyrolysis under high-temperature and low-oxygen conditions. Biochar is produced through a process called pyrolysis, which basically involves heating of biomass (such as wood, manure, or leaves) in complete or almost complete absence of oxygen, with oil and gas as co-products. The issues as food security, declining soil fertility, climate change, and profitability are the driving forces behind the introduction of new technologies or new farming systems. The amendment of soils for their remediation aims at reducing the risk of pollutant transfer to waters or receptor organisms in proximity. The organic material such as biochar may serve as a popular choice for this purpose because its source is biological and it may be directly applied to soils with little pretreatment. There are two aspects which make biochar amendment superior to other organic materials:

The high stability against decay, so that it can remain in soil for longer times providing long-term benefits to soil and the Biochar having more capability to retain the nutrients. Biochar amendment improves soil quality by increasing soil pH, moisture-holding capacity, cation-exchange capacity, and microbial flora. Effect

Effect of Biochar on Soil Health :-

  • The addition of biochar to the soil has shown the increase in availability of basic cations as well as in concentrations of phosphorus and total nitrogen. Typically, alkaline pH and mineral constituents of biochar (ash content, including N, P, K, and trace elements) can provide important agronomic benefits to many soils, at least in the short to medium term.
  • When biochar with a higher pH value was applied to the soil, the amended soil generally became less acidic.
  • Acidic biochar could also increase soil pH when used in soil with a lower pH value. The pH of biochar, similar to the other properties, is influenced by the type of feedstock, production temperature, and production duration.
  • Biochar is the suppression of emissions of greenhouse gases in soil. It has also been demonstrated that the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide were reduced from agricultural soils.
  • Biochar reduced carbon dioxide production by addition of different concentrations of biochar ranging from 2 to 60% (w/w), suppressed nitrous oxide production at levels higher than 20% (w/w).
  • Biochar is effective against both air-borne (e.g. Botrytis cinerea and different species of powdery mildew) and soil-borne pathogens (e.g. Rhizoctonia solani and species of Fusarium and Phytophthora).
  • The application of biochar to soil can influence a wide range of soil constraints such as high availability of Al , soil structure and nutrient availability, bioavailability of organic and inorganic pollutants, cation-exchange capacity (CEC), and retention of nutrients.
  • Biochar can also adsorb pesticides, nutrients, and minerals in the soil, preventing the movement of these chemicals into surface water or groundwater and the subsequent degradation of these waters from agricultural activity.
  • Biochar amendment enhanced soil fertility and crop production, particularly in soils with low nutrients.

Mr. Jitendra Kumar Sharma, Assistant Professor, School of Agricultural Sciences, Career Point University, Kota

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