Management of biosolids-derived hydrochar (Sewchar): Effect on plant germination, and farmers’ acceptance

Tatiane Medeiros Melo, Michael Bottlinger, Elke Schulz, Wilson Mozena Leandro, Sérgio Botelho de Oliveira, Adelmo Menezes de Aguiar Filho, Ali El-Naggar, Nanthi Bolan, Hailong Wang, Yong Sik Ok, Jörg Rinklebe

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrothermal carbonization is a promising approach of biosolids management and its utilization as a soil amendment. This study evaluated the physical and chemical properties of hydrothermally converted biosolids (Sewchar) and its effect as a potential soil amendment on the growth of rice, beans, and radish. The germination experiment was conducted in a greenhouse in a randomized design using five Sewchar doses (0, 10, 20, 40 and 60 Mg ha −1 ). The results showed that hydrothermal carbonization influences the physicochemical properties of the biosolids, such as promoting pore structure and trace elements below the threshold values for use in agriculture. The spectroscopic techniques demonstrated higher presence of oxygen-containing functional groups (e.g., C–O/O–H) on surfaces of Sewchar than that of biosolids. The Sewchar doses of 10 Mg ha −1 and 60 Mg ha −1 yielded the highest dry biomass for beans and rice respectively. Increasing Sewchar doses negatively correlated with radish dry biomass, as indicated by linear regression equation fitting (p < 0.05). Thus, biomass responses to Sewchar application into the soil varied with Sewchar dose and type of plant. For a proper environmental management, a survey was conducted to assess farmers’ perception and acceptance of Sewchar as a soil amendment. The survey revealed that younger farmers who had higher education qualifications were more prone to use Sewchar as soil amendment. Additionally, farmers who would not use Sewchar as soil amendment attributed the highest level of importance to economic criteria, such as fertilizer and freight prices. In the future, studies on a longer term under field conditions should be performed to elucidate the interactions between Sewchar and soil properties on plant growth and to ensure the safe use of Sewchar as a soil amendment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-214
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 1


  • Germination test
  • Hydrothermal carbonization
  • Sewage sludge
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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