Effect of biochar on nutrient leaching in a young apple orchard
Hardie, MA and Oliver, G and Clothier, BE and Bound, SA and Green, SA and Close, DC, Effect of biochar on nutrient leaching in a young apple orchard, Journal of Environmental Quality, 44, (4) pp. 1273-1282. ISSN 0047-2425 (2015) [Refereed Article]
Nutrient leaching from agricultural soils is a worldwide problem that has been implicated in deleterious impacts on the environment. Application of biochar to soil has been proposed as a means to reduce nutrient leaching and improve fertilizer use efficiency. The potential for biochar to reduce nutrient leaching and increase fertilizer use efficiency was tested by applying 47 Mg ha−1Acacia hardwood biochar before replanting a commercial apple (Malas domestica) orchard, in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. Passive wick flux meters were installed at the base of the A1 horizon at a depth of 25 cm to monitor leachate volume and the concentration of nutrients leached below the A1 soil horizon over a 38 mo period. Biochar application significantly increased the concentration of phosphorous in the leachate, while having no significant effect on nitrate or potassium concentration. The volume of leachate collected in the flux meters was significantly higher in the biochar treatment, which resulted in significantly higher amounts of potassium and phosphorous being leaching from the biochar treatment than the control. Biochar application had no significant effect on either the concentration or the flux of nitrate leached from the A1 horizon. Nonetheless, nutrient application was well in excess of tree requirements, such that between 53 to 78% of the applied nitrogen, 5 to 11% of the applied phosphate, and 69 to 112% of the applied potassium were leached below the A1 horizon.
biochar, nitrate, phosphate, potassium, nutrient, leaching, apple, flux meter