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Biochar benefits carbon off-setting in blue-green infrastructure soils - A lysimeter study

Lookup NU author(s): Jiaqian Wang, Professor David ManningORCiD, Dr Ross Stirling, Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel, Professor David WernerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Carbon sequestration with amendments in blue-green infrastructure soils could off-set anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to alleviate climate change. In this 3-year study, the effects of wheat straw and its biochar on carbon sequestration in an urban landscaping soil were investigated under realistic outdoor conditions using two large-scale lysimeters. Both amendments were carried out by incorporating pellets at 0–15 cm soil depth with an equivalent initial total carbon input of 2% of the dry soil weight. Soil carbon, carbon isotope ratios, dissolved carbon in leachates, CO2–C emissions, carbon fixed in above ground vegetation, soil water content, soil bulk electrical conductivity, and water infiltration rates, were then compared between the 2 lysimeters. After 3 years, we observed that, despite having a 17.2% lower vegetation growth, soil organic and inorganic carbon content was higher by 28.8% and 41.5%, respectively, in biochar as compared to wheat straw amended soil. Carbon isotope analysis confirmed the greater stability of the added carbon in the biochar amended soil. Water content was on average 23.2% and 13.0% in the straw pellet and biochar amended soil, respectively, whereas water infiltration rates were not significantly different between the two lysimeters. Overall, the incorporation of wheat straw biochar into soil could store an estimated 30 tonnes of carbon per hectare in city blue-green infrastructure spaces. Interviews involving institution stakeholders examined the feasibility of this biochar application. Stakeholders recognized the potential of biochar as an environment-friendly means for carbon offsetting, but were concerned about the practicality of biochar production and application into soil and increased maintenance work. Consequently, additional potential benefits of biochar for environmental management such as improving the quality of polluted run-off in stormwater treatment systems should be emphasized to make biochar an attractive proposition in sustainable urban development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wang J, Manning DAC, Stirling R, Lopez-Capel E, Werner D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Environmental Management

Year: 2022

Volume: 325

Issue: Part B

Print publication date: 01/01/2023

Online publication date: 02/11/2022

Acceptance date: 25/10/2022

Date deposited: 02/11/2022

ISSN (electronic): 0301-4797

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.116639


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