Efficacy of woody biomass and biochar for alleviating heavy metal bioavailability in serpentine soil

Tharanga Bandara, Indika Herath, Prasanna Kumarathilaka, Zeng Yei Hseu, Yong Sik Ok, Meththika Vithanage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Crops grown in metal-rich serpentine soils are vulnerable to phytotoxicity. In this study, Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) biomass and woody biochar were examined as amendments on heavy metal immobilization in a serpentine soil. Woody biochar was produced by slow pyrolysis of Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) biomass at 300 and 500 °C. A pot experiment was conducted for 6 weeks with tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) at biochar application rates of 0, 22, 55 and 110 t ha−1. The CaCl2 and sequential extractions were adopted to assess metal bioavailability and fractionation. Six weeks after germination, plants cultivated on the control could not survive, while all the plants were grown normally on the soils amended with biochars. The most effective treatment for metal immobilization was BC500-110 as indicated by the immobilization efficiencies for Ni, Mn and Cr that were 68, 92 and 42 %, respectively, compared to the control. Biochar produced at 500 °C and at high application rates immobilized heavy metals significantly. Improvements in plant growth in biochar-amended soil were related to decreasing in metal toxicity as a consequence of metal immobilization through strong sorption due to high surface area and functional groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental geochemistry and health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Black carbon
  • Ca/Mg ratio
  • Charcoal
  • Chemical stabilization
  • Soil amendment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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