Biochar as a soil ameliorant: How biochar properties benefit soil fertility—A review

Beusch, Christine

FG Bodenkunde

In recent years, biochar has received great attention among researchers worldwide. This carbon-rich material, mainly produced from residues from agriculture and forestry, holds a wide range of properties, e.g. large specific surface area, high cation exchange capacity, and substantial nutrient contents, that can have beneficial effects when added to soils. This review is giving a brief introduction to biochar properties and how feedstock, pyrolysis temperature, and time influence these properties. As the majority of studies concentrate on the soil amending effects of biochar, this review also provides an overview of how biochar affects the chemical, physical, hydrological, and biological properties of soils. For example, biochar addition to soils can raise the pH, increase the organic carbon content, enhance nutrient retention, foster porosity, augment the water-holding capacity, and increase microbial biomass. Consequently, biochar can contribute to soil fertility, increase yields, help closing nutrient cycles, and thus help secure food safety in a region. However, the knowledge about the long-term effects is still limited and should be broadened by a more systematic testing of biochar effects in the future to help bring the benefits of biochar into practice.