Metal behavior and soil quality changes induced by the application of tailor-made combined biochar: An investigation at pore water scale

Jing Qiu, Marcella Fernandes de Souza, Nimisha Edayilam, Yongyuan Yang, Yong Sik Ok, Frederik Ronsse, Domenico Morabito, Erik Meers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The remediation performance of biochar varies based on the biomass used for its production. Further innovation involves developing tailor-made biochar by combining different raw materials to compensate for the limitations of pure biochar. Therefore, tailor-made combined biochar produced from the co-pyrolysis of pig manure and invasive Japanese knotweed (P1J1), as well as biochars produced from these feedstocks separately, i.e., pure pig manure (PM) and pure Japanese knotweed (JK), were applied to Pb and As contaminated soil to evaluate the biochar-induced changes on soil properties, microbial activity, DOM, and metal and metalloids solubility at the soil pore water scale. Biochar application reduced soluble Pb, whereas enhanced the As mobility; the increased soil pH after biochar addition played a fundamental role in reducing the Pb solubility, as revealed by their significant negative correlation (r = −0.990, p < 0.01). In contrast, the release of dissolved P strongly influenced As mobilization (r = 0.949, p < 0.01), especially in P-rich PM and P1J1 treatments, while JK showed a marginal effect in mobilizing As. Soils treated with PM, P1J1, and JK mainly increased Gram-negative bacteria by 56 %, 52 %, and 50 %, respectively, compared to the control. Fluorescence excitation-emission matrix spectroscopy combined with parallel factor analysis identified three components in pore water DOM, C1 (long wavelength humic-like), C2 (short wavelength humic-like), and C3 (protein-like), which were dominant respectively in the P1J1, JK, and PM-added soil. A principal component analysis (PCA) confirmed that the PM and P1J1 had similar performance and were more associated with releasing P and Mg and specific DOM components (C1 and C3). Meanwhile, P1J1 supplemented soil OM/OC and K, similar to JK. The results of this study suggest that combined biochar P1J1 can comprehensively enhance soil quality, embodying the advantages of pure PM and JK biochar while overcoming their shortcomings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165552
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Nov 10

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was carried out with the support of the China Scholarship Council (CSC, No. BOF.CHN.2020.0005.01 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • Biochar remediation
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Microbial analysis
  • Nutrient availability
  • Toxic element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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