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Long-term effects of biochar on rice production and stabilisation of cadmium and arsenic levels in contaminated paddy soils

  • Peng CHEN (a1) (a2), Hong-Yan WANG (a1), Rui-Lun ZHENG (a3), Bo ZHANG (a4) and Guo-Xin SUN (a1)...

Abstract

Heavy metal contamination in the paddy soils of China is a serious concern because of its health risk through transfer in food chains. A field experiment was conducted in 2014–2015 to investigate the long-term effects of different biochar amendments on cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As) immobilisation in a contaminated paddy field in southern China. Two types of biochar, a rice-straw-derived biochar (RB) and a coconut-by-product-derived biochar (CB), were amended separately to determine their impacts on rice yield and their efficacy in reducing Cd and As in rice. The two-year field experiment showed that biochar amendments significantly improved the rice yields and that CB is superior to RB, especially in the first growth season. Using a large amount of biochar amendment (22.5tha–1) significantly increased soil pH and total organic carbon, and concomitantly decreased the Cd content in rice grains over the four growth seasons, regardless of biochar type and application rate. Arsenic levels in rice were similar to the control, and results from this study suggest that there was a sustainable effect of biochar on Cd sequestration in soil and reduction of Cd accumulation in rice for at least two years. Biochar amendment in soil could be considered as a sustainable, reliable and cost-effective option to remediate heavy metal contamination in paddy fields for long periods.

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