The Ability of Iron-Impregnated Biochar in the Supply of Iron and Correction of Soybean Iron Chlorosis in a Calcareous Soil

Document Type : Research Article




Introduction: Iron deficiency is one of the most important nutritional disorders in plants, particularly in calcareous soils and deeply affects the yield and quality of the product. Due to the major role of iron in the synthesis of chlorophyll, chlorosis occurs in young leaves in deficiency conditions. In such condition, biochar can help to increase OM, soil fertility level, and iron use efficiency and, to reduce iron chlorosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of iron- impregnated biochar on the availability of iron and the elimination of soybean iron chlorosis in a calcareous soil.
Materials and Methods: Calcareous soil with iron deficiency (0-30 cm) was collected from the east of Golestan province and prepared for cultivation. Two types of biochar were produced from wheat straw and particleboard through slow pyrolysis (increasing 5 °C/min) at 300 °C for 2 hours under restricted oxygen conditions in an electric furnace, and then impregnated with iron sulfate solution. FTIR spectra and SEM images of biochars surfaces were also provided. A pot experiment was conducted as a factorial based on a completely randomized design with four replications. Factors were biochars (wheat straw biochar (WB) and particleboard biochars (PB) each one with 2.5% w/w), iron impregnated biochars (Fe impregnated wheat straw biochar 2.5% w/w (Fe- IWB1) and 5% w/w (Fe-IWB2), 2.5% w/w (Fe-IPB1) and 5% w/w (Fe-IPB2) Fe impregnated particleboards, Fe- Sequestrene (S) and control without Fe and biochar (C), and two soybean cultivars (Williams and Saman). The sown pots were maintained near the field capacity for 12 weeks. Then, SPAD numbers, concentration and uptake of active iron in young and senile leaves and active iron content in soil were determined after harvest.
Results and Discussion: With increasing application of iron impregnated biochar, active iron content increased in the soil. SPAD numbers of the upper leaves of both soybean cultivars in Fe impregnated biochars were significantly higher than those of non-impregnated biochars and control treatments (P ≤ 0.05). Iron chlorosis symptoms in soybeans decreased following the increased application of Fe impregnated biochars, consequently, there were no iron chlorosis symptoms in 5% Fe impregnated biochar treatments. Also, the active iron concentration of the upper leaves and the amount of leaf active iron uptake significantly increased as a result of Fe impregnated biochars application in both soybean cultivars compared to control and non-impregnated biochars (P ≤ 0.05). The highest concentration of active iron in upper leaves was observed in 5% w/w Fe impregnated biochars treatments, but its value for cultivar Williams in Fe impregnated wheat biochar was higher than that in Fe impregnated particleboard biochar. The results of the SEM images indicated that wheat biochar had more quantity of and fine pores (also CEC) than that of the particleboard biochar, and the surface areas of both biochars were rough and dark after impregnation with iron, indicating the adsorption or accumulation of iron at their surfaces. Also, there was a significant positive correlation between the active iron concentration with SPAD numbers in the upper leaves (r = 0.88 **) and dry weight of soybean shoots (r = 0.87 **). Cultivars responses to Fe impregnated biochars showed that iron uptake and active iron concentration in the upper leaves of Williams variety were significantly less than those of Saman variety at both levels of Fe impregnated biochars (P ≤ 0.05), which indicates that cultivar Williams is more susceptible to the iron chlorosis. The results of this experiment and reports from other studies show that the application of impregnated biochars from nutrients besides increasing SOM, permeability and soil moisture, CEC and soil fertility level, also increases the acquisition and use efficiency of iron in the plant.
Conclusion: The results of this study showed that due to the strong adsorption of soil iron, non-impregnated biochar application in the level of 2.5% had no significant effect on the concentration and uptake of active iron and spad numbers of the plant. However, using Fe impregnated biochar and increasing their application in calcareous soils with iron chlorosis resulted in a significant increase of active soil iron content, concentration and uptake of active iron and SPAD numbers of the plant, and, conversely, a decrease of leaf chlorosis. Therefore, besides improving the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil, the application of Fe impregnated biochar can also be a promising approach to eliminate iron chlorosis in sensitive plants, particularly soybeans in calcareous soils.


1- Asai H., Samson B.K., Stephan H.M., Songyikhangsuthor K., Homma K., Kiyono Y., Inoue Y., Shiraiwa T., and Horie T. 2009. Biochar amendment techniques for upland rice production in Northern Laos soil physical properties, leaf SPAD and grain yield. Field Crops Research 111: 81-84.
2- Bavaresco L., Giachino E., and Colla R. 1999. Iron chlorosis paradox in grapevine. Journal of Plant Nutrition 22: 1589-1597.
3- Biederman L.A., and Harpole W.S. 2013. Biochar and its effects on plant productivity and nutrient cycling: a metal analysis. GCB Bioenergy 5: 202-214.
4- Bruun E.W., Hauggaard-Nielsen H., Ibrahim N., Egsgaard H., Ambus P., Jensen P.A., and Dam-Johansen K. 2011. Influence of fast pyrolysis temperature on biochar labile fraction and short-term carbon loss in a loamy soil. Biomass and Bioenergy 35: 1182-1189.
5- Cantrell K.B., Hunt P.G., Uchimiya M., Novak J.M., and Ro K.S. 2012. Impact of pyrolysis temperature and manure source on physicochemical characteristics of biochar. Bioresource Technology 107: 419-428.
6- Chan K.Y., Zwieten L.V., Meszarost L., Downie A., and Joseph S. 2008. Using poultry litter biochars as soil amendments. Australian Journal of Soil Research 46(3): 437-444.
7- Chen Y., and Barak P. 1982. Iron nutrition of plants in calcareous soils. In Advances in agronomy (35: 217-240). Academic Press.
8- Cheng C.H., Lehmann J., Thies J.E., Burton S.D., and Engelhard M.H. 2006. Oxidation of black carbon by biotic and abiotic processes. Organic Geochemistry 37: 1477-1488.
9- De Santiago A., and Delgado A. 2006. Predicting iron chlorosis of lupin in calcareous Spanish soils from iron extracts. Soil Science Society of America Journal 70: 1945-1950.
10- Diaz I., Del Campillo M.C., Cantos M., and Torrent J. 2009. Iron deficiency symptoms in grapevine as affected by the iron oxide and carbonate contents of model substrates. Plant and Soil 322: 293-302.
11- Gaskin J.W., Steiner C., Harris K., Das K.C., and Bibens B. 2008. Effect of low-temperature pyrolysis conditions on biochar for agricultural use. Transactions of the ASABE 51: 2061-2069.
12- Gavili E., Moosavi A.A., and Haghighi A.A.K. 2019. Does biochar mitigate the adverse effects of drought on the agronomic traits and yield components of soybean? Industrial Crops and Products 128: 445-454.
13- Gunarathne V., Mayakaduwa S., and Vithanage M. 2017. Biochar’s Influence as a Soil Amendment for Essential Plant Nutrient Uptake. In Essential Plant Nutrients (pp. 47-67). Springer, Cham.
14- Jiang T.Y., Jiang J., Xu R.K., and Li Z. 2012. Adsorption of Pb (II) on variable charge soils amended with rice-straw derived biochar. Chemosphere, 89:249-256.
15- Katyal J.C., and Sharma B.D. 1980. A new technique of plant analysis to resolve iron chlorosis. Plant and Soil, 55:105-119.
16- Keiluweit M., Nico P.S., Johnson M.G., and Kleber M. 2010. Dynamic molecular structure of plant biomass-derived black carbon (biochar). Environmental Science and Technology 44: 1247-1253.
17- Köseoğlu A.T., and Açikgöz V. 1995. Determination of iron chlorosis with extractable iron analysis in peach leaves. Journal of Plant Nutrition 18: 153-161.
18- Ksouri R., Gharsalli M., and Lachaal M. 2005. Physiological responses of Tunisian grapevine varieties to bicarbonate-induced iron deficiency. Journal of Plant Physiology 162(3): 335-341.
19- Lehmann J., and Joseph S. 2015. Biochar for environmental management: science and technology and Implementation. 2nd ed. Rouledge, London Sterling,VA, UK. 944p.
20- Lehmann J., Gaunt J., and Rondon M. 2006. Bio-char sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems–a review. Mitigation and adaptation strategies for Global Change 11: 403-427.
21- Lindsay W.L., and Norvell W.A. 1978. Development of a DTPA Soil Test for Zinc, Iron, Manganese, and Copper. Soil science society of America Journal 42: 421-428.
22- Lyu S., Du G., Liu Z., Zhao L., and Lyu D. 2016. Effects of biochar on photosystem function and activities of protective enzymes in Pyrus ussuriensis Maxim. under drought stress. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum 38: 220.
23- Major J., Rondon M., Molina D., Riha S.J., and Lehmann J. 2010. Maize yield and nutrition during 4 years after biochar application to a Colombian savanna oxisol. Plant and Soil 333: 117-128.
24- Marschner H. 1996. Mineral nutrition of higher plants. Wiley Online Library.
25- Mendez A., Gomez A., Paz-Ferreiro J., and Gasco G. 2012. Effects of sewage sludge biochar on plant metal availability after application to a Mediterranean soil. Chemosphere 89: 1354-1359.
26- Miller G.W., Pushnik J.C., and Welkie G.W. 1984. Iron chlorosis, a worldwide problem, the relation of chlorophyll biosynthesis to iron. Journal of Plant Nutrition 7:1-22.
27- Novak J.M., Busscher W.J., Laird D.L., Ahmedna M., Watts D.W., and Niandou M.A. 2009. Impact of biochar amendment on fertility of a southeastern coastal plain soil. Soil Science 174: 105-112.
28- Oviedo C., and Rodriguez J. 2003. EDTA: the chelating agent under environmental scrutiny. Quimica Nova, 26:901-905.
29- Pastorova I., Botto R.E., Arisz P.W., and Boon J.J. 1994. Cellulose char structure: a combined analytical Py-GC-MS, FTIR, and NMR study. Carbohydrate Research 262: 27-47.
30- Pestana M., de Varennes A., and Faria E.A. 2003. Diagnosis and correction of iron chlorosis in fruit trees: A review. Journal of Food Agriculture and Environment 1(1): 46-51.
31- Qiao Y., Wu J., Xu Y., Fang Z., Zheng L., Cheng W., Tsang E.P., Fang J., and Zhao D. 2017. Remediation of cadmium in soil by biochar-supported iron phosphate nanoparticles. Ecological Engineering 106: 515-522.
32- Ramzani P.M.A., Khalid M., Naveed M., Ahmad R., and Shahid M. 2016. Integrating the organic amendment with iron fertilization for improving productivity and Fe biofortification in rice under acidified calcareous soil. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences 53: 407-417.
33- Rostami R., Ershadi A., and Sarikhani H. 2015. Evaluation of peach, bitter almond, GF677 and GN15 rootstocks for bicarbonate or iron deficiency-induced chlorosis. Journal of Crops Improvement 17(2): 341-355. (In Persian with English Abstract)
34- Samsuri A.W., Sadegh-Zadeh F., and Seh-Bardan B.J. 2013. Adsorption of As (III) and As (V) by Fe coated biochars and biochars produced from empty fruit bunch and rice husk. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering 1: 981-988.
35- Schultz H., Dunst G., and Glaser B. 2013. Positive effects of composted biochar on plant growth and soil fertility. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 33(4): 817-827.
36- Song W., and Guo M. 2012. Quality variations of poultry litter biochar generated at different pyrolysis temperatures. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 94: 138-145.
37- Sorrenti G., Masiello C.A., and Toselli M. 2016. Biochar interferes with kiwifruit Fe-nutrition in calcareous soil. Geoderma 272:10-19.
38- Sun Y., Gao B., Yao Y., Fang J., Zhang M., Zhou Y., Chen H., and Yang L. 2014. Effects of feedstock type, production method, and pyrolysis temperature on biochar and hydrochar properties. Chemical Engineering Journal 240:574-578.
39- Suppadit T., Phumkokrak N., and Poungsuk P. 2012. The effect of using quail litter biochar on soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.) production. Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research 72: 244.
40- Tagoe S.O., Horiuchi T., and Matsui T. 2008. Effects of carbonized and dried chicken manures on the growth, yield, and N content of soybean. Plant and Soil 306: 211-220.
41- Tisdale S., Nelson W., Havlin J., and Beaton J. 1999. Soil fertility and fertilizers. An introduction to nutrient management. 503 p.
42- Treeby M., Marschner H., and Römheld V. 1989. Mobilization of iron and other micronutrient cations from a calcareous soil by plant-borne, microbial, and synthetic metal chelators. Plant and Soil 114: 217-226.
43- Xu G., Wei L.L., Sun J.N., Shao H.B., and Chang S.X. 2013. What is more important for enhancing nutrient bioavailability with biochar application into a sandy soil: Direct or indirect mechanism? Ecological Engineering 52: 119-124.
44- Yang X., Liu J., McGrouther K., Huang H., Lu K., Guo X., He L., Lin X., Che L., Ye Z., and Wang H. 2016. Effect of biochar on the extractability of heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn) and enzyme activity in soil. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 23: 974-984.
45- Yu X.Y., Ying G.G., and Kookana R.S. 2009. Reduced plant uptake of pesticides with biochar additions to soil. Chemosphere 76: 665-671.
Volume 34, Issue 2 - Serial Number 70
May and June 2020
Pages 409-422
  • Receive Date: 15 July 2019
  • Revise Date: 11 November 2019
  • Accept Date: 20 January 2020
  • First Publish Date: 21 May 2020