Modest amendment of sewage sludge biochar to reduce the accumulation of cadmium into rice (Oryza sativa L.): A field study

Youchi Zhang, Tingting Chen, Yongkai Liao, Brian J. Reid, Haifeng Chi, Yanwei Hou, Chao Cai

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Much research has considered the influence of biochars on the availability and phytoaccumulation of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) from soil. However, the vast majority of these studies use, what are arguably, unrealistic and unpractical amounts of biochar (10, 50 and even up to 100 t/ha). To offer a more realistic insight into the influence of biochar on PTE partitioning and phytoaccumulation, a field study, using modest rates of biochar application (1.5, 3.0 t/ha), was undertaken. Specifically, the research investigated the influence of sewage sludge biochar (SSBC) on the accumulation of Cd into rice (Oryza sativa L.) grown in Cd contaminated (0.82 ± 0.07 mg/kg) paddy soil. Results indicated, Cd concentrations in rice grains to significantly (p < 0.05) decrease from 1.35 ± 0.09 mg/kg in the control to 0.82 ± 0.07 mg/kg and 0.80 ± 0.21 mg/kg in the 1.5 t/ha and 3.0 t/ha treatments, respectively. Accordingly, the hazardous quotient (HQ) indices for Cd, associated with rice grain consumption, were also reduced by ∼40%. SSBC amendment significantly (p < 0.05) increased grain yields from 1.90 ± 0.08 g/plant in the control to 2.17 ± 0.30 g/plant and 3.40 ± 0.27 g/plant in the 1.5 t/ha and 3.0 t/ha treatments, respectively. Thus, the amendment of SSBC to contaminated paddy soils, even at low application rates, could be an effective approach to mitigate Cd accumulation into rice plants, to improve rice grain yields, and to thereby improve food security and protect public health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819–825
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online date28 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • Sewage sludge biochar
  • Rice (Oryza sativa L.)
  • Cadmium
  • Paddy soil
  • Field

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