A preliminary assessment of the potential of using an acacia—biochar system for spent mine site rehabilitation

F. Reverchon, Hong Yang, T. Ho, Guijun Yan, J. Wang, Z. Xu, C. Chen, Dongke Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Mining activities result in extensive soil degradation by removing the top soil, disturbing soil structure and altering microbial communities. Rehabilitation of spent mine sites through revegetation thus requires proper soil amendments. In this study, a pot trial was conducted to investigate the effects of a jarrah biochar on the growth and nutrient status of a native legume, Acacia tetragonophylla, grown in a mixture of topsoil and mine rejects. Two biochar application rates (37 and 74 t ha−1) and two types of biochar, namely nutrient-enriched and non-enriched, were tested. We measured the soil pH and electrical conductivity, the carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) contents and C and N isotope composition (δ13C and δ15N) of soil and plants, the foliar phosphorus content and the growth and leaf biomass of the plants. Whilst no significant effect of biochar was observed on plant growth, biochar amendment affected soil properties and plant nutritional status. The highest rate of biochar application increased soil pH, C content and C/N ratio, and decreased soil δ13C. Biochar application also enhanced photosynthetic N use efficiency, as showed by the increase in foliar C/N ratio, and biological N fixation rates, as indicated by foliar δ15N. These positive effects were not observed when biochar was nutrient-enriched due to the associated increase in soil N. Revegetation of mine sites with acacia in combination with biochar amendment constitutes a plausible alternative to the wide use of N fertiliser through the supply of additional N to the system, even though other nutrients may be required in order to enhance plant early growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2144
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


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