Assessment of Orange Peel Hydrochar as a Soil Amendment: Impact on Clay Soil Physical Properties and Potential Phytotoxicity
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The main objectives of this work were the following: (1) to investigate the applicability of orange peel hydrochar as a soil amendment for improving the physical properties of a compacted, clay soil and (2) to study the growth of maize on substrates composed of clay soil and hydrochar and determine any potential phytotoxic effects.
The effect on soil’s bulk density (BD), aeration, water holding capacity (WHC), and hydraulic conductivity were examined with hydrochar additions of 5, 10 and 15% (w/w) and determined by conventional laboratory methods. Potential phytotoxic effects were determined through the Zucconi germination index on fresh, diluted and 4-week old undiluted hydrochar extracts. The effect of hydrochar on maize growth was studied in clay soil (as reference), clay soil with 5% (w/w) fresh hydrochar, clay soil with 5% (w/w) of 4-week-old hydrochar and clay soil with 5% (w/w) biochar (for comparison).
At an application rate of 5% (w/w) hydrochar, the bulk density was reduced from 1.35 to 1.22 g/cm3, the air-filled porosity was increased from 33 to 37% and the saturated hydraulic conductivity from 0.96 to 1.01 cm/h. The water holding capacity remained practically unchanged, however it was considerably reduced at higher application rates. The seed germination test indicated strong phytotoxicity of the fresh, undiluted hydrochar extract, which was reduced when the extract was diluted or the hydrochar allowed to mature for 4 weeks. The pot tests indicated that hydrochar did not improve the yield of maize, probably due to the presence of phytotoxic substances.
This study demonstrated a new valorization pathway for a significant agricultural waste. Additionally, it proved the applicability of orange peel hydrochar for improving the physical properties of clay soil. However, due to phytotoxic effects, further work is required before a field application is considered.
KeywordsOrange peel Hydrothermal carbonization Hydrochar Soil amendment
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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