Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #268210

Title: Comparative sorption and leaching study of the herbicides fluometuron and MCPA in a soil amended with biochar and other sorbents

item CABRERA, A - University Of Sevilla
item COX, L - University Of Sevilla
item Spokas, Kurt
item HERMOSIN, C - University Of Sevilla
item CORNEJO, J - University Of Sevilla
item Koskinen, William

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2011
Publication Date: 12/14/2011
Citation: Cabrera, A., Cox, L., Spokas, K.A., Hermosin, C., Cornejo, J., Koskinen, W.C. 2011. Comparative sorption and leaching study of the herbicides fluometuron and MCPA in a soil amended with biochar and other sorbents. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 59(23):12550-12560.

Interpretive Summary: This research focused on the impacts of six different biochars, activated charcoal, organoclay, and a biomass waste stream (olive mill waste) on the sorption and leaching of two herbicides [fluometuron and 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA)]. These amendments were added at 2% by weight to soil. Biochars are assumed to increased sorption. However, in this study a biochar created by fast pyrolysis of macadamia shells actually decreased observed sorption of the two herbicides in biochar amended soil. Activated carbon resulted in complete sorption and no detectable leaching of the herbicides. Two of the biochars (a fast pyrolsyis hardwood biochar and a slow pyrolysis hardwood biochar) increased observed sorption, but in the column study these two biocahrs resulted in increased leaching of the two herbicides. The organoclays also increased sorption and decreased leaching. These results indicate that the impact of biochar on herbicide transport is biochar specific and no normal biochar behavior should be assumed. This finding could provide additional insight and direction in the focus of the benefits of biochar additions on improving water quality by sorbing agrochemicals. These results are significant to farmers and policy makers and will assist scientists and engineers in developing improved mechanisms of biochar additions for herbicide sorption to decrease agrochemical transport to groundwater.

Technical Abstract: Biochar is the solid residual remaining after the thermo-chemical transformation of biomass and, because of its numerous properties; it has been proposed to be used as soil amendment. In this work, the effect of soil amendment with six biochars from different feedstocks, production, and post-production handling on sorption and leaching of fluometuron and 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) was studied and compared to the effect of other sorbents, such as an activated carbon, a Ca rich Arizona montmorillonite modified with hexadecyltrimethylammonium organic cation (SAZ-HDTMA) and an agricultural organic residue from olive oil production (OOW). Soils were amended at 2% (w/w) with the sorbents and studies were performed following a batch equilibration procedure. Sorption of both herbicides increased in all amended soils, except in the soil amended with a biochar produced from macadamia nut shells at fast pyrolysis and 850 ºC, which resulted in decreased sorption. On the other hand, both fluometuron and MCPA were completely sorbed and not detected in the leachates of the soil amended with activated carbon. Higher sorption and lower leaching of the herbicides were observed in the soils amended with the biochars with higher surface areas and the organoclay. Higher biochar surface area was correlated with decreasing biochar particle size. Despite the increase in herbicide sorption in soils amended with two hardwood biochars (hardwood sawdust with fast pyrolysis at 500 ºC and slow pyrolysis of hardwood at 540 ºC), leaching of fluometuron and MCPA was enhanced with the addition of these biochars and by the addition of OOW, which slightly increased herbicide sorption, when compared to the unamended soils. Our results indicate that not all biochar amendments will increase sorption. Furthermore, the amount and composition of the OM content of the amendment can play an important role on sorption and leaching of the herbicides fluometuron and MCPA.