Frank Verheijen: Erosion and Pesticide Leaching of Biochar-Amended Soils

STSM at the Volcani Center in Israel, January 2014

Frank Verheijen (University of Aveiro, Portugal) was awarded a 2.5 week STSM to work with Dr. Meni Ben-Hur at the Volcani Center in Israel. Frank's postdoctoral work focuses on how biochar influences soil hydrology, amongst other things. The STSM work hypothesized that previously found increases in infiltration rate were caused by a flocculation effect.

Full title of the STSM: Erosion and Pesticide Leaching of Biochar-Amended Soils using a Rotating Disc Type Rainfall Simulator

A rainfall simulation experiment was carried out with washed biochar, i.e. biochar that had had all salts removed from it, thereby excluding a flocculation effect. Several runs were performed at an approximate rainfall intensity of 50 mm/h for ca. 85 minutes. Results showed no significant difference between controls – without biochar – and soil amended with washed biochar.

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Figure 1. Rotating disc rainfall simulator. Picture taken shortly after completing the first run (courtesy of Ellen Graber)

Frank’s and Meni’s collaboration, with also the help of Ellen Graber, has given further insights into the complex way that biochar can influence soil hydrology. It has also provided background to ideas for future research and collaborations. The results will be further analyzed before submission as an original research article to an appropriate ISI journal in which the COST Action will be duly acknowledged.

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Figure 2. Soil surface after rainfall simulation.