Water hydraulics, retention and repellency; response to soil texture, biochar pyrolysis conditions and wetting/drying
More details
Hide details
Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, LandMark University, PMB 1001, Omu Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria
Department of Water Resources Management and Agrometeorology, Federal University, PMB 373, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Institute for Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Christian Albrechts University zu Kiel, Hermann Rodewaldstr. 2, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, Federal University of Technology, PMB 704, Akure, Nigeria
Department of Food and Biosystems Engineering, Afe Babalola University, PMB 5454, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria
Department of Soil Science and Land Resources Management, Federal University, PMB 373, Oye Ekiti, Nigeria
Oluwaseun Temitope Faloye   

Water Resources Management and Agrometeorology, Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Final revision date: 2022-05-30
Acceptance date: 2022-06-14
Publication date: 2022-08-16
Int. Agrophys. 2022, 36(3): 213–221
  • Saturated hydraulic conductivity was determined under wetting and drying scenario to evaluate aggregation effects
  • Higher water retention and contact angle in soil amended with biochar is explained by aggregation effects
  • Biochar amendments reduced the saturated hydraulic conductivity under wetting and drying scenario, with the magnitude of reduction depending on biochar type
Studies which evaluated the aggregation effects in biochar-amended soils by determining the saturated hydraulic conductivity and water repellency, in combination with wetting/drying scenarios are rare. Therefore, the objective of this study is to link water repellency and water retention in biochar-amended soils to the aggregation effect under different pyrolysis conditions and soil textures. Two feedstock sizes; twig and branch-based mango were pyrolysed at 550°, and were then mixed with sandy loam and silt loam at application rates of; 0, 30, 45 and 60 g kg–1 respectively. Sequentially, the soil-biochar mixtures were subjected to five wetting and drying cycles. In each of the cycles, the saturated hydraulic conductivity, and thereafter the contact angles of the soil-biochar mixtures were measured using the sessile drop approach. The results showed that biochar addition decreased the saturated hydraulic conductivity in all cycles. The rigidity effect was more pronounced in soil amended with biochar and produced using twig mango as opposed to the biochar produced using mango branch. A higher rigidity value was measured in the silt loam and sandy loam amended with twig as compared to the branch-based mango which may be attributed to aggregation processes. This also coincides with higher contact angle values and water retention values that were measured using twig as opposed to branch-based mango.
The authors declare no conflict of interest
Ajayi A.E., Holthusen D., and Horn R., 2016. Changes in microstructural behaviour and hydraulic functions of biochar amended soils. Soil Till. Res., 155, 66-175,
Ajayi A.E. and Horn R., 2016. Modification of chemical and hydrophysical properties of two texturally differentiated soils due to varying magnitudes of added biochar. Soil Till. Res., 164, 34-44,
Alghamdi A.G., Alkhasha A., and Ibrahim H.M., 2020. Effect of biochar particle size on water retention and availability in a sandy loam soil. J. Saudi Chem. Soc., 24(12), 1042-1050,
ASTM E873-82, 2006. Standard test method for bulk density of densified particulate biomass fuels. Annual Book of ASTM Standards, 82 (Reapproved).
Baiamonte G., Crescimanno G., Parrino F., and De Pasquale C., 2019. Effect of biochar on the physical and structural properties of a desert sandy soil. Catena, 175, 294-303,
Bodner G., Scholl P., and Kaul H.P., 2013. Field quantification of wetting-drying cycles to predict temporal changes of soil pore size distribution. Soil Till. Res., 133, 1-9,
Brewer C.E., Chuang V.J., Masiello C.A., Gonnermann H., Gao X., Dugan B., Driver L.E., Panzacchi P., Zygourakis K., and Davies C.A., 2014. New approaches to measuring biochar density and porosity. Biomass and Bioenerg., 66, 76-185,
Das O. and Sarmah A.K., 2015. The love-hate relationship of pyrolysis biochar and water: A perspective. Sci. Tot. Environ., 512-513, 682-685,
de Jesus Duarte S., Glaser B., and Cerri C.E.P., 2019. Effect of biochar particle size on physical, hydrological and chemical properties of loamy and sandy tropical soils. Agronomy, 9(4), 165,
Demirbas A., 2004. Effects of temperature and particle size on bio-char yield from pyrolysis of agricultural residues. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis, 72(2), 243-248,
Diel J., Vogel H.J., and Schlüter S., 2019. Impact of wetting and drying cycles on soil structure dynamics. Geoderma, 345, 63-71,
Doerr S.H., Shakesby R.A., and Walsh R.P. D., 2000. Soil water repellency: Its causes, characteristics and hydro-geomorphological significance. Earth-Sci. Rev., 51(1-4), 33-65,
Downie A., Crosky A., and Munroe P., 2009. Physical properties of biochar. In: Biochar for environmental management (Eds J. Lehmann and S. Joseph). Science and Technology, Earthscan, London, 13-32.
Drelich J., 2013. Guidelines to measurements of reproducible contact angles using a sessile-drop technique. Surf. Innov., 1(4), 248-254,
Dunnigan L., Ashman P.J., Zhang X., and Kwong C.W., 2018. Production of biochar from rice husk: Particulate emissions from the combustion of raw pyrolysis volatiles. J. Clean. Prod., 172, 1639-1645,
Dunning C.M., Black E., and Allan R.P., 2018. Later wet seasons with more intense rainfall over Africa under future climate change. J. Clim., 31(23),9719-9738,
Esmaeelnejad L., Shorafa M., Gorji M., and Hosseini S. mossa., 2017. Impacts of Woody Biochar Particle Size on Porosity and Hydraulic Conductivity of Biochar-Soil Mixtures: An Incubation Study. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal., 48(14), 1710-1718,
Faloye O.T., Ajayi A.E., Alatise M.O., Ewulo B.S., and Horn R., 2020. Maize Growth and Yield Modelling Using AquaCrop Under Deficit Irrigation with Sole and Combined Application of Biochar and Inorganic Fertiliser. J. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 20(4), 2440–2453,
Feng G.L., Letey J., and Wu L., 2001. Water Ponding Depths Affect Temporal Infiltration Rates in a Water-Repellent Sand. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 65(2), 315-320,
Githinji L., 2014. Effect of biochar application rate on soil physical and hydraulic properties of a sandy loam. Arch. Agron. Soil Sci., 60(4), 457-470,
Gray M., Johnson M.G., Dragila M.I., and Kleber M., 2014. Water uptake in biochars: The roles of porosity and hydrophobicity. Biomass Bioenerg., 61, 196-205,
Guo J. and Lua A.C., 1998. Characterization of chars pyrolyzed from oil palm stones for the preparation of activated carbons. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolys., 46(2), 113-125,
Hartge K.H. and Horn R., 2016. Essential Soil Physics. Schweizerbart Science Publisher. Stuttgart, Germany.
Heslot F., Cazabat A.M., Levinson P., and Fraysse N., 1990. Experiments on wetting on the scale of nanometers: Influence of the surface energy. Phys. Rev. Lett., 65(5), 599,
Islam M.U., Jiang F., Guo Z., and Peng, X, 2021. Does biochar application improve soil aggregation? A meta-analysis Soil Till. Res., 209, 104926,
Kameyama K., Miyamoto T., and Iwata Y., 2019. The preliminary study of water-retention related properties of biochar produced from various feedstock at different pyrolysis temperatures. Materials, 12(11), 1732,
Keiluweit M., Nico P.S., Johnson M., and Kleber M., 2010. Dynamic molecular structure of plant biomass-derived black carbon (biochar). Envir. Sci. Technol., 44(4), 1247-1253,
Kholodov V.A., Yaroslavtseva N.V., Yashin M.A., Frid A.S., Lazarev V.I., Tyugai Z.N., and Milanovskiy E.Y., 2015. Contact angles of wetting and water stability of soil structure. Eurasian Soil Sci., 48(6), 600-607,
Kinney T.J., Masiello C.A., Dugan B., Hockaday W.C., Dean M.R., Zygourakis K., and Barnes R.T., 2012. Hydrologic properties of biochars produced at different temperatures. Biomass Bioenerg., 41, 34-43,
Leelamanie D.A. L., Karube J., and Yoshida A., 2008. Characterizing water repellency indices: Contact angle and water drop penetration time of hydrophobized sand. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 54(2), 179-187,
Leij F.J., Ghezzehei T.A., and Or D., 2002. Modeling the dynamics of the soil pore-size distribution. Soil Till. Res., 64(1-2), 61-78,
Lua A.C., Yang T., and Guo J., 2004. Effects of pyrolysis conditions on the properties of activated carbons prepared from pistachio-nut shells. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolys., 72(2), 279-287,
Mubarak A.R., Ragab O.E., Ali A.A., and Hamed N.E., 2009. Short-term studies on use of organic amendments for amelioration of a sandy soil. African J. Agric. Res., 4(7), 621-627.
Park J., Park J., Lim H., and Kim H.Y., 2013. Shape of a large drop on a rough hydrophobic surface. Phys. Fluids, 25(2), 022102,
Peng X., Horn R., and Smucker A., 2007. Pore Shrinkage Dependency of Inorganic and Organic Soils on Wetting and Drying Cycles. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 71(4), 1095-1104,
Peng X., Ye L.L., Wang C.H., Zhou H., and Sun B., 2011. Temperature- and duration-dependent rice straw-derived biochar: Characteristics and its effects on soil properties of an Ultisol in southern China. Soil Till. Res., 112(2), 159-166,
Roy J.L. and McGill W.B., 2002. Assessing soil water repellency using the molarity of ethanol droplet (MED) test. Soil Sci., 167(2), 83-97,
Song W., and Guo M., 2012. Quality variations of poultry litter biochar generated at different pyrolysis temperatures. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolys., 94, 138-145,
Sun Z., Moldrup P., Elsgaard L., Arthur E., Bruun E.W., Hauggaard-Nielsen H., and De Jonge L.W., 2013. Direct and indirect short-term effects of biochar on physical characteristics of an arable sandy loam. Soil Sci., 178(9), 465-473,
Villagra-Mendoza K., and Horn R., 2018a. Effect of biochar addition on hydraulic functions of two textural soils. Geoderma, 326, 88-95,
Villagra-Mendoza K., and Horn R., 2018b. Effect of biochar on the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity of two amended soils. Int. Agrophys., 32(3), 373-378,
Wallis M.G., Scotter D.R., and Horne D.J., 1991. An evaluation of the intrinsic sorptivity water repellency index on a range of New Zealand soils. Austral. J. Soil Res., 29(3), 353-362,
Woolf D., Amonette J.E., Street-Perrott F.A., Lehmann J., and Joseph S., 2010. Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change. Nat. Commun., 1, 56,
Zimmermann I. and Horn R., 2020. Impact of sample pretreatment on the results of texture analysis in different soils. Geoderma, 371, 114379,