Leonardite (LND) and its biochar have gained much attention as it can improve soil quality and immobilize herbicides in the subsurface. Our objective was to quantify the herbicide adsorption characteristics of carbonized LND (cLND). The physiochemical properties were compared side by side between LND and cLND at different pyrolysis temperatures (450–850 °C). Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy spectral analysis confirmed the loss of oxygen-containing functional groups such as H-bonded OH, carbonyl, or C=O and the presence of the aromatic C=C group up to 650 °C. Both of which were later used to establish the governing adsorption mechanism. At >450 °C, the Si content decreased slightly and the calcium content increased, indicating proper use of cLND for Si-deficit soil and acidified soil. By conducting multiple linear regression analyses, the atrazine adsorption kinetic fitted well with pseudo-second-order models while both alachlor and atrazine sorption behavior were well described using a monolayer isotherm (Langmuir and Jovanovich, respectively). The herbicide hydrophilicity slightly affected the sorption mechanism which indirectly resulted from the existence of graphitic carbon on the LND carbonized at a higher temperature. Increased cLND in the soil resulted in much better improvement in the water holding capacity than from LND due to the presence of sufficient mesopores and adequate surface porosity. Our results showed that LND can be readily transformed into better adsorbing biochar at 550 °C compared to higher temperatures. Overall, the study provided a better understanding of the application of leonardite derived-biochar as an effective alternative soil amendment and herbicide-immobilizing adsorbent.
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Dr. Kanitta Wongyai, a level 10 scientist from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) at the Mae Moh lignite mine, provided the leonardite raw material. Dr. Narong Chanlek, at BL5.3 station in the Synchrotron Light Research Institute (Public Organization), offered valuable suggestions. Technical assistance was provided by Ms. Sidaporn Punya in the laboratory and by Mrs. Sunee Rittirat for agricultural soil sampling for the soil-water retention experiments.
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Sakulthaew, C., Watcharenwong, A., Chokejaroenrat, C. et al. Leonardite-Derived Biochar Suitability for Effective Sorption of Herbicides. Water Air Soil Pollut 232, 36 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-020-04974-4
- Depleted herbicide
- Herbicide immobilization
- Leonardite-derived biochar
- Soil amendment