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Advances in Environmental Research
  Volume 6, Number 2, June 2017 , pages 127-137

Biochemical characterization of cotton stalks biochar suggests its role in soil as amendment and decontamination
Uzma Younis, Mohammad Athar, Saeed Ahmad Malik, Tasveer Zahra Bokhari and M. Hasnain Raza Shah

    Cotton is the major fiber crop in Pakistan that accounts for 2% of total national gross domestic product (GDP). After picking of cotton, the dry stalks are major organic waste that has no fate except burning to cook food in villages. Present research focuses use of cotton stalks as feedstock for biochar production, its characterization and effects on soil characteristics. Dry cotton stalks collected from agricultural field of Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan were combusted under anaerobic conditions at 450oC. The physicochemical analysis of biochar and cotton stalks show higher values of % total carbon, phosphorus and potassium concentrations in biochar as compared to cotton stalks. The concentration of nitrogen was decreased in biochar. Similarly biochar had greater values of fixed carbon that suggest its role for carbon sequestration and as a soil amendment. The fourier transformation infrared spectroscopic spectra (FTIR) of cotton stalks and biochar exposed more acidic groups in biochar as compared to cotton stalks. The newly developed functional groups in biochar have vital role in increasing surface properties, cation exchange capacity, and water holding capacity, and are responsible for heavy metal remediation in contaminated soil. In a further test, results show increase in the water holding capacity and nutrient retention by a sandy soil amended with biochar. It is concluded that cotton stalks can be effectively used to prepare biochar.
Key Words
    biochar; characterization; cotton sticks; FTIR; soil amendment
Uzma Younis, Saeed Ahmad Malik, Tasveer Zahra Bokhari and M. Hasnain Raza Shah: Institute of Pure and Applied Biology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan 60,000, Pakistan
Mohammad Athar:
1) California Department of Food and Agriculture, 3288 Meadowview Road, Sacramento, CA 95832, USA
2) Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi-75270, Pakistan

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