Effects of biochar on the ecological performance of a subtropical landfill

Xun Wen Chen, James Tsz Fung Wong, Zhan Ting Chen, Thomas Wui Lung Tang, Hao Wen Guo, Anna Oi Wah LEUNG, Charles Wang Wai Ng*, Ming Hung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Landfills commonly occupy large areas of land that may be ecologically important. Ecological restoration of landfill cover is a necessary approach to rebuild sustainable habitats. However, unfavourable soil conditions and invasion by exotic plants in certain regions hinder the restoration. In this study, the effects of biochar as a soil amendment on the restoration of a landfill cover were investigated under field condition. Topsoils of a landfill cover in the subtropical region (Shenzhen, China) were mixed with 0, 5 and 10% (v/v) of biochar. Soil pH, electronic conductivity, organic matter, total organic carbon, water content, total N and total P were enhanced by biochar amendment. After nine months of self-succession, plant productivity, species richness and diversity were enhanced by biochar. The structures of soil bacterial and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal communities were changed, and species richness and diversity were moderately promoted. Enhanced plant growth and diversity were probably attributed to a number of enhanced bacterial functions related to nutrient cycling including aerobic ammonia oxidation, aerobic nitrite oxidation, nitrification, sulphur respiration, nitrate respiration, nitrogen respiration, ureolysis, chemoheterotrophy and fermentation. The higher abundances of bacteria Streptomyces sp. and Pseudomonas sp. in biochar treatments potentially enhanced the AM fungal diversity. The bacterial diversity was more related to the soil properties, especially pH, than AM fungi. Continuous monitoring is necessary to track the changes of species composition and ecological functions over time. This is the first comprehensive study on the effects of biochar on the ecological performance of a man-made ecosystem. In addition to agricultural application, biochar can be used for restoring degraded lands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-975
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Biochar
  • Disturbed habitat
  • Ecological function
  • Plant
  • Restoration
  • Soil microbiome


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