Determining the Stability of Sugarcane Filtercake Biochar in Soils with Contrasting Levels of Organic Matter Speratti, Alicia B.; Romanyà, Joan; Garcia-Pausas, Jordi; Johnson, Mark S.
Sugarcane filtercake is a nutrient-rich residue produced prior to sugarcane distillation and is commonly disposed of by applying directly to agricultural fields, often causing high decomposition and leaching rates. Transforming this material into biochar could improve its stability in the soil. In this 92-day incubation study, filtercake biochar produced at 400 °C (BC400) and 600 °C (BC600) was used to trace biochar stability when mixed with two soils with different organic matter levels: an agricultural field (1.2% carbon (C)) and a forest (2.8% C) soil. Based on δ¹³C isotope analysis, biochar decreases in the field soil mostly occurred in the coarse silt fraction. In contrast, biochar decreases in forest soil appeared to be more equally distributed in all particle size fractions. A negative priming effect in biochar-amended soils was noticeable, mainly in the forest soil. Cumulative CO₂ emissions were greater in soils with BC400 than in those with BC600 for both field and forest soils, while adding biochar increased CO₂ emissions only in field soils. This increase did not appear to affect native soil organic matter pools. High-temperature filtercake biochar could thus be a more stable alternative to the current practice of raw filtercake applications.
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