A comparison between the characteristics of a biochar-NPK granule and a commercial NPK granule for application in the soil

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Science of the Total Environment


Continual application of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) fertilizer may not return a profit to farmers due to the costs of application and the loss of NPK from soil in various ways. Thus, a combination of NPK granule with a porous biochar (termed here as BNPK) appears to offer multiple benefits resulting from the excellent properties of biochar. Given the lack of information on the properties of NPK and BNPK fertilizers, it is necessary to investigate the characteristics of both to achieve a good understanding of why BNPK granule is superior to NPK granule. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the characteristics of a maize straw biochar mixed with NPK granule, before and after application to soil, and compare them to those for a commercial NPK granule. The BNPK granule, with a greater surface area and porosity, showed a higher capacity to store and donate electrons than the NPK granule. Relatively lower concentrations of Ca, P, K, Si and Mg were dissolved from the BNPK, indicating the ability of the BNPK granule to maintain these mineral elements and reduce dissolution rate. To study the nutrient storage mechanism of the BNPK granule in the soil, short- and long-term leaching experiments were conducted. During the experiments, organo-mineral clusters, comprising C, P, K, Si, Al and Fe, were formed on the surface and inside the biochar pores. However, BNPK was not effective in reducing N leaching, in the absence of plants, in a red chromosol soil.

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