Biochar application in alkaline soil and its effect on soil and plant


  • Tamer Mohamed SALEM Soils, Water and Environment Research institute, Agricultural Research Center, Giza, Egypt.
  • Khaled Mohamed REFAIE Application Dept., Central Laboratory for Agricultural Climate, Agricultural Research Center (ARC), Dokki, Giza, Egypt
  • Abd El-Hamid El-Ghadban Abd El-Lateif SHERIF Soils, Water and Environment Research Institute (SWERI), Agricultural Research Center (ARC), Giza, Egypt
  • Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed EID Soils, Water and Environment Research Institute (SWERI), Agricultural Research Center (ARC), Giza, Egypt



biochar, alkaline soil, potatoes, nutrient availability, crop yield


Scientists reported that biochar can improve soil properties in acidic soils, while in alkaline soils were shown negative results. A field study was done to evaluate the effect of biochar application solely in alkaline soil compared with biochar composts with farm yard manure (BC-FYM) and sulfur (BC-S). The results revealed that using solely biochar decreased yield of potatoes tubers to more than 6 % and 10 % using mineral and organic fertilization, respectively. This was attributed to the alkalinity effect of biochar and raises the soil pH, which might precipitate macro and micro elements in soil and become unavailable for plant absorption. While using mixtures of BC-FYM and BC-S were shown to enhance yield productivity of potatoes tubers 11.7 % and equal to control under mineral fertilization; and 25.13 % and 10.53 % using organic fertilization, respectively. Mixture of BC-FYM and BC-S proved to have the ability for recovering the alkalinity effect of biochar, improve nutrients availability in soil and increase crop yield of potatoes. In general, mixing biochar with FYM was efficient, economical and environmentally sound solution in alkaline soils.

Author Biography

  • Tamer Mohamed SALEM, Soils, Water and Environment Research institute, Agricultural Research Center, Giza, Egypt.
    Environmental Dept.


Abdelhafez, A.A., Li, J. & Abbas, M.H.H. (2014). Feasibility of biochar manufactured from organic wastes on the stabilization of heavy metals in a metal smelter contaminated soil. Chemosphere, 117, 66-71.

Alburquerque, J.A., Salazar, P., Barrón, V., Torrent, J., Campillo, M.C., Gallardo, A. & Villar, R. (2012). Enhanced wheat yield by biochar addition under different mineral fertilization levels. Agronomy Sustainable Development, 33(3), 475-484.

American Standard of Testing Material. (2001). Standard Test Method for Chemical Analysis of Wood Charcoal. ASTM D 1762-84.

Asai, H., Samson, B. K., Stephan, H. M., Songyikhangsuthor, K., Homma, K., Kiyono, Y., Inoue, Y., Shiraiwa, T. & Horie, T. (2009). Biochar amendment techniques for upland rice production in northern Laos. Field Crops Research, 111, 81-84.

Atkinson, C.J., Fitzgerald, J.D. & Hipps, N.A. (2010). Potential mechanisms for achieving agricultural benefits from biochar application to temperate soils: a review. Plant Soil, 337, 1-18.

Baronti, S., Vaccari, F.P., Miglietta, F., Calzolari, C., Lugato, E., Orlandini, S., Pini, R.,Zulian, C. & Genesio, L. (2014). Impact of biochar application on plant water relations in Vitis vinifera L.. European Journal of Agronomy, 53, 38-44.

Bateman, E. J., & Baggs, E. M. (2005). Contributions of nitrification and denitrification to N2O emissions from soils at different water-filled pore space. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 41, 379- 388.

Blackwell, P., Krull, E., Butler, G., Herbert, A. & Solaiman, Z. (2010). Effect of banded biochar on dry land wheat production and fertilizer use in south-western Australia: an agronomic and economic perspective. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 48, 531-545.

Boehm, H.P., Diehl, E., Heck, W. & Sappok, R. (1964). Surface oxides of carbon. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 3, 669-77.

Borchard, N., Prost, K., Kautz, T., Moeller, A. & Siemens, J. (2012). Sorption of copper (II) and sulphate to different biochar before and after composting with farm yard manure. European Journal of Soil Science, 63, 399-409.

Brookes, P.C., Powlson, D.S. & Jenkinson, D.S. (1984). Phosphorus in the soil microbial biomass. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 16,169-175.

Bruun, E.W., Müller-Stöver, D., Ambus, P. & Hauggaard-Nielsen, H. (2011). Application of biochar to soil and N2O emissions: potential effects of blending fast-pyrolysis biochar with anaerobically digested slurry. European Journal of Soil Science, 62, 581-589.

Busch, D., Kammann, C., Grünhage, L. & Müller, C. (2012). Simple biotoxicity tests forevaluation of carbonaceous soil additives: establishment and reproducibility offour test procedures. Journal of Environmental Quality, 41, 1023.

Buss, W., Kammann, C. & Koyro, H.W. (2012). Biochar reduces copper toxicity in Chenopodium quinoa Willd. in a sandy soil. Journal of Environmental Quality, 41, 1157.

Busscher, W.J., Novak, J.M., Evans, D.E., Watts, D.W., Niandou, M.A.S. & Ahmedna, M. (2010). Influence of pecan biochar on physical properties of a Norfolk loamy sand. Soil Science, 175, 10-14.

Butnan, S., Deenik, J.L., Toomsan, B., Antal, M.J. & Vityakon, P. (2015). Biochar characteristics and application rates affecting corn growth and properties of soils contrasting in texture and mineralogy. Geoderma, 237-238, 105-116.

Case, S.D.C., McNamara, N.P., Reay, D.S. & Whitaker, J. (2012). The effect of biochar addition on N2O and CO2 emissions from a sandy loam soil - the role of soil aeration. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 51,125-34.

Cayuela, M.L., Sánchez-Monedero, M.A., Roig, A., Hanley, K., Enders, A. & Lehmann, J. (2013). Biochar and denitrification in soils: when, how much and why does biochar reduce N2O emissions? Scientific Reports, 3, 1732.

Chan K.Y., Van Zwieten L., Meszaros I., Downie A. & Joseph S. (2007). Agronomic values of green waste biochar as a soil amendment. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 45, 629-634.

Cheng, C.-H. & Lehmann, J. (2009). Ageing of black carbon along a temperature gradient. Chemosphere, 75, 1021-1027.

Clough, T., Condron, L., Kammann, C. & Müller, C. (2013). A review of biochar and soil nitrogen dynamics. Agronomy, 3, 275-293.

Cottenie A., Verloo, M., Kiekens, l., Velghe, G. & Camerlynck, R. (1982). Chemical Analysis of Plants and Soils. Lab. of Analytical and Agro. State, University Ghent. Belgium.

Ding, W., Meng, L., Yin, Y., Cai Z. & Zheng, X. (2007). CO2 emission in an intensively cultivated loam as affected by long term application of organic manure and nitrogen fertilizer. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 39, 669-679.

Ding, Y., Liu, Y.X., Wu, W.X., Shi, D.Z., Yang, M. & Zhong, Z.K. (2010). Evaluation of Biochar effects on nitrogen retention and leaching in multi-layered soil columns. Water Air Soil Pollution, 213, 47-55.

Dubois, M., Cilles, K.A., Hamilton, J.K., Rober, P.A. & Smith, F. (1965). Colorimetric method for determination of sugars related substances. Analytical Chemistry, 28, 350-365.

Fellet, G., Marchiol, L., DelleVedove, G. & Peressotti, A. (2011). Application of biochar on mine tailings: Effects and perspectives for land reclamation. Chemosphere, 83, 1262-1267.

Fischer, D. & Glaser, B. (2012). Synergisms between compost and biochar for sustain-able soil amelioration. In: Kumar, S., Bharti, A. (Eds.), Management of Organic Waste. Rijeka, In Tech., 167-198.

Frossard, E., Condron, L.M., Oberson, A., Sinaj, S. & Fardeau, J.C. (2000). Processes governing phosphorus availability in temperate soils. Journal of Environmental Quality, 29, 15-23.

Gathorne-Hardy, A., Knight, J. & Woods, J. (2009). Biochar as a soil amendment positively interacts with nitrogen fertiliser to improve barley yields in the UK. IOP Conf. Ser. Earth. Environmental Science, 6, 372052.

Glaser, B., Lehmann, J. & Zech, W. (2002). Ameliorating physical and chemical properties of highly weathered soils in the tropics with charcoal - a review. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 35, 219-230.

Gomez-Eyles, J.L., Beesley, L., Moreno-Jiménez, E., Ghosh, U. & Sizmur, T. (2013). The potential of biochar amendments to remediate contaminated soils. In: Ladygina, N., Rineau, F. (Eds.), Biochar and Soil Biota. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Graber, E.R. & Elad, Y. (2013). Biochar Impact on Plant Resistance to Disease. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Graber, E.R., Tsechansky, L., Gerstl, Z. & Lew, B. (2012). High surface area biochar negatively impacts herbicide efficacy. Plant Soil, 353(1-2), 95-106.

Harsono, S. S., Grundmann, P. & Siahaan, D. (2015). Role of Biogas and Biochar Palm Oil Residues for Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Biodiesel Production. Energy Procedia, 65, 344 - 351.

Hass, A., Gonzalez, J.M., Lima, I.M., Godwin, H.W., Halvorson, J.J. & Boyer, D.G. (2012). Chicken manure biochar as liming and nutrient source for acid Appalachian soil. Journal of Environmental Quality, 41, 1096-1106.

Husson, O. (2012). Redox potential (Eh) and pH as drivers of soil/plant/microorganism systems: a trans disciplinary overview pointing to integrative opportunities for agronomy. Plant Soil, 362, 389-417.

Ippolito, J.A., Laird, D.A. & Busscher, W.J. (2012). Environmental benefits of biochar. Journal of Environmental Quality, 41, 967.

Jin, H. (2010). Characterization of Microbial Life Colonizing Biochar and Biochar-Amended Soils. Cornell University Graduate School.

Jones J.B. (1991). Kjeldahl Method for Nitrogen Determination. Athens, GA: Micro- Macro Publishing,

Joseph, S., Graber, E., Chia, C., Munroe, P., Donne, S., Thomas, T., Nielsen, S., Marjo, C., Rutlidge, H., Pan, G., Li, L., Taylor, P., Rawal, A. & Hook, J. (2013a). Shifting paradigms: development of high-efficiency biochar fertilizers based on nano-structures and soluble components. Carbon Management, 4, 323-343.

Joseph, S., Van Zwieten, L., Chia, C., Kimber, S., Munroe, P., Lin, Y., Marjo, C., Hook, J.,Thomas, T., Nielsen, S., Donne, S. & Taylor, P. (2013b). Designing Specific Biochars to Address Soil Constraints: A Developing Industry. In: Ladygina, N., Rineau, F. (Eds.), Biochar and Soil Biota. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Kammann, C., Ratering, S., Eckhard, C. & Muller, C. (2012). Biochar and hydrochar effects on greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane) fluxes from soils. Journal of Environmental Quality, 41, 1052-66.

Karhu, K., Mattila, T., Bergström, I. & Regina, K. (2011). Biochar addition to agricultural soil increased CH4 uptake and water holding capacity - results from a short-term pilot field study. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 140, 309-13.

Laird, D., Fleming, P., Wang, B., Horton, R. & Karlen, D. (2010). Biochar impact on nutrient leaching from a Midwestern agricultural soil. Geoderma, 158, 436-442.

Lehmann J., Da Silva J.P. jr., Steiner C., Nehls T., Zech W. & Glaser B. (2003). Nutrient availability and leaching in an archaeological anthrosol and a ferralsol of the Central Amazon basin: fertilizer, manure and charcoal amendments. Plant Soil, 249, 343-357.

Lehmann, J., Gaunt, J. & Rondon, M. (2006). Bio-char sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems-a review. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 11, 403-427.

Lehmann, J., Rillig, M., Thies, J., Masiello, C., Hockaday, W. & Crowley, D. (2011). Biochar effects on soil biota - a review. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 43, 1812-1836.

Lehmann, J. & Steiner, C. (2009a). Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek's Vision. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht.

Lehmann, J. & Steiner, J. (2009b). Biochar for Environmental Management. Published by Earth scan Publishers Ltd (ISBN 978-1-84407-658-1).

Liu, X.H. & Zhang, X.C. (2012). Effect of biochar on pH of alkaline soils in the Loess Plateau: Results from incubation experiments. International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 4, 745-750.

Major, J., Rondon, M., Molina, D., Riha, S.J. & Lehmann, J. (2010). Maize yield and nutrition during 4 years after biochar application to a Colombian savanna oxisol. Plant Soil, 333, 117-128.

Masulili, A., Utomo, W.H. & Syechfani, M.S. (2010). Rice Husk Biochar for Rice Based Cropping System in Acid Soil 1. The Characteristics of Rice Husk Biochar and Its Influence on the Properties of Acid Sulfate Soils and Rice Growth in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Journal of Agricultural Science, 2(1), 39-47.

McCormack, S.A., Ostle, N., Bardgett, R.D., Hopkins, D.W. & Vanbergen, A.J. (2013). Biochar in bioenergy cropping systems: impacts on soil faunal communities and linked ecosystem processes. GCB Bioenergy, 5, 81-95.

Mclaughlin, M.J., Alston, A.M. & Martin, J.K. (1988). Phosphorus cycling in wheat pasture rotations .II. The role of the microbial biomass in phosphorus cycling. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 26(2), 333 - 342.

Mengel, K. & Kirkby, E.A. (2001). Principles of Plant Nutrition, 5th edition. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Mukherjee, A., Zimmerman, A.R. & Harris, W. (2011). Surface chemistry variations among a series of laboratory-produced biochars. Geoderma, 136, 247-255.

Nishio, M. (1996). Microbial Fertilizers in Japan. FFTC Extension Bulletin. Food and Fertilizer Technology Center, Taipei City.

Pietikäinen, J., Kiikkilä, O. & Fritze, H. (2003). Charcoal as a habitat for microbes and its effect on the microbial community of the underlying humus. Oikos, 89,231-242.

Prost, K., Borchard, N., Siemens, J., Kautz, T. & Séquaris, J. (2012). Biochar affected by composting with farmyard manure. Journal of Environmental Quality, 42(1), 164-172.

Richardson, A.E. (2001). Prospects for using soil microorganisms to improve the acquisition of phosphorus by plants. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 28, 897-906.

Rondon, M., Lehmann, J., Ramírez, J. & Hurtado, M. (2007). Biological nitrogen fixation by common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) increases with bio-char additions. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 43, 699-708.

Rutherford, D.W., Wershaw, R.L. & Reeves, J.B. (2008). Development of acid functional groups and lactones during the thermal degradation of wood and wood components. Denver: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 2007- 5013.

Schulz, H., Dunst, G. & Glaser, B. (2014). No Effect Level of Co-Composted Biochar on Plant Growth and Soil Properties in a Greenhouse Experiment. Agronomy, 4, 34-51.

Seeling, B. & Zasoski, R.J. (1993). Microbial effects in maintaining organic and inorganic solution phosphorus concentrations in a grass land topsoil. Plant Soil, 148, 277-284.

Steiner, C., Das, K.C., Melear, N. & Lakly, D. (2010). Reducing nitrogen loss during poultry litter composting using biochar. Journal of Environmental Quality, 39, 1236.

Steiner, C., Teixeira, W.G., Lehmann, J., Nehls, T., de Macedo, J.L.V., Blum, W.E.H. & Zech, W. (2007). Long term effects of manure, charcoal and mineral fertilization on crop production and fertility on a highly weathered central Amazonian upland soil. Plant and Soil, 291, 275-290.

Taghizadeh-Toosi, A., Clough, T.J., Sherlock, R.R. & Condron, L.M. (2011). Biochar adsorbed ammonia is bioavailable. Plant Soil, 57-69.

Tan, W.L, Rosenani, A.M, Ahmad, S.H. & Ishak, C.F. (2012). Oil palm empty fruit bunch biochar: characterization and potential usage as soil amendment for its nutrient retention capacity in soil, The 4th International Biochar Congress, 12.

Tuomela, M., Vikman, M., Hatakka, A. & Itävaara, M. (2000). Biodegradation of lignin in a compost environment: a review. Bioresource Technology, 72,169-183.

Van Zwieten, L., Kimber, S., Morris, S., Chan, K.Y., Downie, A., Rust, J., Joseph, S. & Cowie, A. (2010). Effects of biochar from slow pyrolysis of papermill waste on agronomic performance and soil fertility. Plant Soil, 327, 235-246.

Ventura, M., Sorrenti, G., Panzacchi, P., George, E. & Tonon, G. (2013). Biochar reduces short-term nitrate leaching from a horizon in an apple orchard. Journal of Environmental Quality, 42, 76-82.

Verheijen, F.G.A., Jeffery, S., Bastos, A.C., van der Velde, M. & Diafas, I. (2010). Biochar Application to Soils - A Critical Scientific Review of Effects on Soil Properties, Processes and Functions. EUR 24099 EN, Luxembourg.

Warnock, D., Lehmann, J., Kuyper, T. & Rillig, M. (2007). Mycorrhizal responses to biochar in soil - concepts and mechanisms. Plant Soil, 300, 9-20.

Yamato M., Okimori Y., Wibowo I.F., Anshori S. & Ogawa M. (2006). Effects of the application of charred bark of Acacia mangium on the yield of maize, cowpea and peanut, and soil chemical properties in South Sumatra, Indonesia. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 52, 489-495.

Yuan, J.H. & Xu, R.K. (2011). The amelioration effects of low temperature biochar generated from nine crop residues on an acidic ultisol. Soil Use and Management, 27, 110- 115.

Zimmerman, A.R. (2010). Abiotic and microbial oxidation of laboratory-produced black carbon (biochar). Environmental Science and Technology, 44, 1295-1301.



8. 10. 2019



Agronomy section

How to Cite

SALEM, T. M., REFAIE, K. M., SHERIF, A. E.-H. E.-G. A. E.-L., & EID, M. A. M. (2019). Biochar application in alkaline soil and its effect on soil and plant. Acta Agriculturae Slovenica, 114(1), 85–96.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 550

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.