An overview on biochar production, its implications, and mechanisms of biochar-induced amelioration of soil and plant characteristics

Fasih Ullah HAIDER, Jeffrey A. COULTER, Liqun CAI, Saddam HUSSAIN, Sardar Alam CHEEMA, Jun WU, Renzhi ZHANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

The degradation of soil fertility and quality due to rapid industrialization and human activities has stimulated interest in the rehabilitation of low-fertility soils to sustainably improve crop yield. In this regard, biochar has emerged as an effective multi-beneficial additive that can be used as a medium for the amelioration of soil properties and plant growth. The current review highlights the methods and conditions for biochar production and the effects of pyrolysis temperature, feedstock type, and retention time on the physicochemical properties of biochar. We also discuss the impact of biochar as a soil amendment with respect to enhancing soil physical (e.g., surface area, porosity, ion exchange, and water-holding capacity) and chemical (e.g., pH, nutrient exchange, functional groups, and carbon sequestration) properties, improving the soil microbiome for increased plant nutrient uptake and growth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing infectious diseases in plants, and facilitating the remediation of heavy metal-contaminated soils. The possible mechanisms for biochar-induced amelioration of soil and plant characteristics are also described, and we consider the challenges associated with biochar utilization. The findings discussed in this review support the feasibility of expending the application of biochar to improve degraded soils in industrial and saline-alkali regions, thereby increasing the usable amount of cultivated soil. Future research should include long-term field experiments and studies on biochar production and environmental risk management to optimize biochar performance for specific soil remediation purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-130
Number of pages24
JournalPedosphere
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to express their thanks to the Provincial Government of Gansu, China, for supporting the research. We are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers who helped us to improve the quality of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Soil Science Society of China

Keywords

  • carbon sequestration
  • crop yield
  • pyrolysis
  • soil amendment
  • soil fertility
  • soil remediation

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