Comparing the potentials of clay and biochar in improving water retention and mechanical resilience of sandy soil
 
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1
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, Federal University of Technology, PMB 704, Akure Ondo State, Nigeria
2
Institute for Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, CAU Kiel, Hermann-Rodewald-Str. 2, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Publish date: 2016-08-25
 
Int. Agrophys. 2016, 30(4): 391–399
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ABSTRACT
Changing climate is threatening rainfall regularity particularly in the semi-arid and arid regions; therefore, strategies to conserve water within their coarse-grained soils and to improve water use efficiency of crops are critical. This study compared the effectiveness of biochar and two types of clay materials in augmenting water retention and improving mechanical resilience of fine sand. The amendment of fine sand with woodchip-biochar and kaolinite (non-swelling clay) and Na-bentonite (swelling clay) improved the water retention capacity and interparticle bonding of the substrate depending of the rate of amendment and water content of the substrates. Na-bentonite was more effective at in-creasing water retention capacity at more negative matric potentials. Biochar was more effective at saturation due to the increased porosity, while kaolinite responds similarly to biochar. It is, however, shown that most of the water retained by the Na-betonite may not be available to plants, particularly at high amendment rate. Furthermore, the clay and biochar materials improved particle bonding in the fine sand with the Na-bentonite being more effective than biochar and kaolinite (in that order) in strengthening interparticle bonds and improving the resilience of fine sand, if the rate of amendment is kept at ≤50 g kg-1.
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