Physical and chemical properties of biochars co-composted with biowastes and incubated with a chicken litter compost

Naser Khan, Ian Clark, Miguel A. Sánchez-Monedero, Syd Shea, Sebastian Meier, Fangjie Qi, Rai S. Kookana, Nanthi Bolan

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Two experiments were conducted where three biochars, made from macadamia nutshell (MS), hardwood shaving (WS) and chicken litter (CL), were co-composted with chicken manure and sawdust, and also incubated with a chicken litter based commercial compost. Biochars were added at the rates of 5% and 10% in the co-composting and 10% and 20% in the incubation experiment. The rates of biochar had no consistent effect on the change in element contents of composted- or incubated-biochars. The biochar C demonstrated recalcitrance in both composting and incubation systems. Composting increased the CEC of biochars probably due to thermophilic oxidation. The increases in CEC of WS and CL were 6.5 and 2.2 times, respectively, for composting. Translocation of elements, between biochar and compost medium, occurred in both directions. In most cases, biochars gained elements under the influence of positive difference of concentrations (i.e., when compost medium had higher concentration of elements than biochar), while in some cases they lost elements despite a positive difference. Biochar lost some elements (WS: B; CL: B, Mg and S) under the influence of negative difference of concentrations. Some biochars showed strong affinity for B, C, N and S: the concentration of these elements gained by biochars surpassed the concentration in the respective composting medium. The material difference in the biochars did not have influence on N retention: all three netbag-biochars increased their N content. The cost of production of biochar-compost will be lower in co-composting than incubation, which involves two separate processes, i.e., composting and subsequent incubation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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