Improvement of physical and hydraulic properties of desert soil with amendment of different biochars

  • Leiyi Zhang
  • Yiming Jing
  • Guanhong Chen
  • Xiaojie Wang
  • Renduo ZhangEmail author
Soils, Sec 3 • Remediation and Management of Contaminated or Degraded Lands • Research Article



The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of amendment of different biochars on the physical and hydraulic properties of desert soil.

Materials and methods

Biochars were produced with woodchip, rice straw, and dairy manure at temperatures of 300 and 700 °C, respectively. Each biochar at 5% (w/w) was mixed with desert soil, and the mixtures were incubated for 120 days.

Results and discussion

The different biochar treatments greatly reduced soil bulk density and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Especially the rice straw biochar addition resulted in the lowest saturated hydraulic conductivities among the treatments. Biochar addition significantly increased water retention of desert soil at any suction. At the same suction and experimental time, the treatment with the rice straw biochar produced at the lower temperature resulted in higher water content than the other treatments. The biochar additions slightly enhanced formation of soil macro-aggregates in the early experimental time. However, the aggregate contents gradually decreased with time due to the lack of effective binding agents (e.g., soil organic matter and clay minerals).


The changes of hydraulic properties of desert soil were attributable to the biochar properties. The higher fine particle content, porosity, and surface hydrophilicity of rice straw biochars were the most beneficial properties to increase soil water retention and to reduce water flow in the desert soil. The improvement of hydraulic properties by biochar addition may provide a potential solution to combat desertification.


Biochars Desert soil Hydraulic properties Soil aggregates Influence factors 


Funding information

This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41471181).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Environmental Pollution Control and Remediation Technology, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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