A comprehensive assessment of potential hazard caused by organic compounds in biochar for agricultural use.


Ruzickova J(1), Koval S(2), Raclavska H(1), Kucbel M(1), Svedova B(1), Raclavsky K(1), Juchelkova D(3), Scala F(4).
Author information:
(1)ENET Centre VSB-TU Ostrava, Czech Republic.
(2)ENET Centre VSB-TU Ostrava, Czech Republic. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science VSB-TU Ostrava, Czech Republic.
(4)Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica, dei Materiali e della Produzione Industriale Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy.


Great attention has been paid to using biochar as soil conditioner and bio-accumulator. Nevertheless, biochar application in agriculture might cause a potential hazard to ecosystems, considering that toxic organic pollutants present in biochar may enter the environment. European Biochar Certificate (EBC) set certain criteria for biochar production. Achieving the EBC established values of the molar ratio of H/Corg <0.7 and O/Corg <0.4, does not ensure that biochar will not cause phytotoxicity. The results of root growth inhibition of Sinapis alba were in the range of 9% (eucalyptus wood biochar) to 82% (maize biochar). Phytotoxicity of biochar was possibly caused by the presence of water-soluble organic compounds. In total, 62 organic compounds were identified in the leachate from noncertified biochar and 35 organic compounds in the leachate from certified biochar. Biochar safety, in terms of the presence of organic compounds, can be recognised by the evaluation of the ratio of organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC). Biochar with the highest phytotoxicity showed the ratio between OC/EC > 0.1, inhibition of Sinapis alba <30% was observed with OC/EC < 0.02. To achieve Sinapis alba inhibition <20%, these parameters should be met: volatile matter (VM) <30%; concentration of OC < 4%; aromaticity ratio AL/AR < 0.35.