Biochar-based fertiliser enhances nutrient uptake and transport in rice seedlings

Publication Name

Science of the Total Environment


Biochar-based compound fertilisers (BCF) are gaining increasing attention as they are cost-effectiveness and improve soil fertility and crop yield. However, little is known about the mechanisms by which micron-size BCF particles enhance crop growth. In the present study, Wuyunjing7 rice seedlings were exposed to micron-size particles of wheat straw-based BCF (mBCF) diffused through a 25-μm nylon mesh. The control was fertilised with urea, diammonium phosphate, and potassium chloride to ensure that both treatments received comparables level of N, P, and K. The effects of mBCF on rice seedling growth were evaluated by determining the changes in nitrogen uptake and utilisation via nitrogen content measurements, short-term 15N-NH4+ influx assays, and analyses of transcript-level nutrient transporter gene expression. The shoot biomass of rice seedling treated with mBCF at the rate of 5 mg/ g soil was 33% greater than that for the control. Root and shoot 15N accumulation rates were 44% and 14% higher, respectively, in the mBCF-treated than the control. The mBCF-treated rice seedlings had higher phosphorus, potassium, and iron content than the control. Moreover, the treatments significantly differed in terms of their nutrient transporter gene expression levels. Spectroscopy and microscopy were used to visualise nutrient distributions across transverse root sections. There were relatively higher iron oxide nanoparticle and silicon-based compound concentrations in the roots of the mBCF-treated rice seedlings than in those of the control. The foregoing difference might account for the fact that the growth of the mBCF-treated rice was superior to that of the control. We demonstrated that the mBCF treatment created a more negative electrical potential at the root epidermal cell layer (~ − 160 mV) than the root surface. This potential difference may have been the driving force for mineral nutrient absorption.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



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