Nano-biochar reduced soil erosion and nitrate loss in sloping fields on the Loess Plateau of China

Xiaopeng Chen, Beibei Zhou, Quanjiu Wang, Wanghai Tao, Henry Lin

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23 Scopus citations


The effects of biochar on soil erosion and nutrient loss on the Chinese Loess Plateau have been well reported, but the huge required application rate of biochar limits the biochar use. The specific nano-treatment can improve the distribution and properties of biochar (e.g., increase the specific surface area). To investigate the migration processes of runoff, sediment and nutrients on the nano-biochar (NB) applied sloping land during rainfall events, different mass content of NB (0.0%, 0.1%, 0.5%, 0.7%, and 1.0%) were used on the three types of vegetation covered sloping land (bare, caragana, and maize). The effects of NB and vegetation on runoff volume, sediment yield, and nitrate loss were studied under simulated rainfall in the northeastern region of the Loess Plateau. The main results were as follows: the application of NB effectively reduced runoff (39.7–74.4%), sediment yield (8.9–41.8%), and nitrate loss (13.6–59.8%) in all treatments. Losses of nitrate in runoff and sediment were negatively correlated with increased content of NB (when NB application rate was 1.0%, the maximum nitrate loss in runoff and sediment were 27.43 and 6.25 mg, respectively). The equivalent model of convection was more suitable for analyzing the nutrient transfer process with the application of NB. The effective mixing depth decreased with NB content and could be well described by a power function. NB might promote the nitrate migrate to deep soil and reduce nitrate loss in runoff and sediment. With NB application, the peak value of nitrate distribution in the profile moved downward, and the maximum value was obtained at 10–15 cm. Moreover, the most effective NB content for reducing nitrate loss were 1.0%. Comparing with bare and maize, caragana had the most significant effect on reducing runoff, sediment and nutrient loss. In addition, Synergistic effect of NB and caragana showed the great potential on soil and water loss control. The findings in this study provide an efficient and economic method for controlling soil erosion and nutrient loss on the Chinese Loess Plateau.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104346
StatePublished - Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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