Application of biochars and solid fraction of digestate to decrease soil solution Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in contaminated sandy soils

Abstract

Biochar prepared from waste biomass was evaluated as a soil amendment to immobilize metals in two contaminated soils. A 60-day incubation experiment was set up on a French technosol which was heavily contaminated with Pb due to former mining activities. Grass biochar, cow manure biochar (CMB) and two lightwood biochars differing in particle size distribution (LWB1 and LWB2) were amended to the soil at a rate of 2% (by mass). Rhizon soil moisture samplers were employed to assess the Pb concentrations in the soil solution at regular times. After 30 days of incubation, soil solution concentrations in the CMB-amended soil decreased by more than 99% compared to the control. CMB was also applied to a moderately contaminated Flemish soil and resulted in lowered soil solution Cd and Zn concentrations. While the application of 4% CMB resulted in 90% and 80% reductions in soil solution concentrations of Cd and Zn, respectively, the solid fraction of digestate (as a reference) reduced the soil pore water concentrations by only 63% for Cd and 73% for Zn, compared to the concentrations in the control. These results emphasize the potential of biochar to immobilize metals in soil and water systems, thus reducing their phytotoxicity.

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Van Poucke, R., Egene, C.E., Allaert, S. et al. Application of biochars and solid fraction of digestate to decrease soil solution Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in contaminated sandy soils. Environ Geochem Health 42, 1589–1600 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-019-00475-4

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Keywords

  • Metal contaminated soil
  • Biochar
  • Metal adsorption
  • Cow manure biochar