Amending greenroof soil with biochar to affect runoff water quantity and quality

Environ Pollut. 2011 Aug-Sep;159(8-9):2111-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.01.022. Epub 2011 Feb 12.


Numbers of greenroofs in urban areas continue to grow internationally; so designing greenroof soil to reduce the amount of nutrients in the stormwater runoff from these roofs is becoming essential. This study evaluated changes in extensive greenroof water discharge quality and quantity after adding biochar, a soil amendment promoted for its ability to retain nutrients in soils and increase soil fertility. Prototype greenroof trays with and without biochar were planted with sedum or ryegrass, with barren soil trays used as controls. The greenroof trays were subjected to two sequential 7.4cm/h rainfall events using a rain simulator. Runoff from the rain events was collected and evaluated. Trays containing 7% biochar showed increased water retention and significant decreases in discharge of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, nitrate, phosphate, and organic carbon. The addition of biochar to greenroof soil improves both runoff water quality and retention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / analysis
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Charcoal / chemistry*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods*
  • Facility Design and Construction / methods*
  • Lolium / chemistry
  • Lolium / growth & development
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrates / chemistry
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nitrogen / chemistry
  • Phosphates / analysis
  • Phosphates / chemistry
  • Phosphorus / analysis
  • Phosphorus / chemistry
  • Rain
  • Sedum / chemistry
  • Sedum / growth & development
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry*
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control


  • Nitrates
  • Phosphates
  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • biochar
  • Charcoal
  • Phosphorus
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen