Phosphorus availability from bone char in a P-fixing soil influenced by root-mycorrhizae-biochar interactions

Marie J. Zwetsloot, Johannes Lehmann*, Taryn Bauerle, Steven Vanek, Rachel Hestrin, Abebe Nigussie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: The objectives of this study were to evaluate (1) the fertilizer potential of bone char, (2) the effects of wood biochar on plant-available phosphorus (P), and (3) the role of root-mycorrhizae-biochar interactions in plant P acquisition from a P-fixing soil. Methods: Incubation and pot experiments were conducted with a P-fixing soil and maize with or without root hairs and arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) inoculation. Olsen-, resin-P and plant P accumulation were used to estimate P availability from bone char, co-pyrolyzed bone char-wood biochar, and separate bone char and wood biochar additions produced at 60, 350 and 750 °C, and Triple Superphosphate (TSP). Results: Maize inoculated with AM showed similar P accumulation when fertilized with either 750 °C bone char or TSP. Pyrolyzing bone did not increase extractable P in soil in comparison to unpyrolyzed bone, apart from a 67 % increase in resin-extractable P after additions of bone char pyrolyzed at 350 °C. Despite greater Olsen-P extractability, co-pyrolysis of bone with wood reduced maize P uptake. Wood biochars reduced resin-P from bone char by 14–26 %, whereas oven-dried wood increased resin-P by 23 %. Conclusions: Bone char is an effective P fertilizer, especially if root-AM interactions are simultaneously considered. Biochar influences plant access to soil P and requires careful management to improve P availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizae
  • Biochar
  • Bone char
  • Nutrient acquisition strategies
  • Phosphorus adsorption


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