Assessment of potato peel and agro-forestry biochars supplementation on in vitro ruminal fermentation

Ana R. F. Rodrigues, Margarida R. G. Maia, Ana R. J. Cabrita, Hugo M. Oliveira, Maria Bernardo, Nuno Lapa, Isabel Fonseca, Henrique Trindade, José L. Pereira, António J. M. Fonseca

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Background. The awareness of environmental and socio-economic impacts caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector leverages the adoption of strategies to counteract it. Feed supplements can play an important role in the reduction of the main greenhouse gas produced by ruminants-methane (CH4). In this context, this study aims to assess the effect of two biochar sources and inclusion levels on rumen fermentation parameters in vitro. Methods. Two sources of biochar (agro-forestry residues, AFB, and potato peel, PPB) were added at two levels (5 and 10%, dry matter (DM) basis) to two basal substrates (haylage and corn silage) and incubated 24-h with rumen inocula to assess the effects on CH4 production and main rumen fermentation parameters in vitro. Results. AFB and PPB were obtained at different carbonization conditions resulting in different apparent surface areas, ash content, pH at the point of zero charge (pHpzc), and elemental analysis. Relative to control (0% biochar), biochar supplementation kept unaffected total gas production and yield (mL and mL/g DM, pD0.140 and pD0.240, respectively) and fermentation pH (p D 0.666), increased CH4 production and yield (mL and mL/g DM, respectively, pD0.001) and ammonia-N (NH3-N, pD0.040), and decreased total volatile fatty acids (VFA) production (p < 0.001) and H2 generated and consumed (p ≤ 0.001). Biochar sources and inclusion levels had no negative effect on most of the fermentation parameters and efficiency. Acetic.propionic acid ratio (pD0.048) and H2 consumed (pD0.019) were lower with AFB inclusion when compared to PPB. Biochar inclusion at 10% reduced H2 consumed (p < 0.001) and tended to reduce total gas production (pD0.055). Total VFA production (pD0.019), acetic acid proportion (pD0.011) and H2 generated (pD0.048) were the lowest with AFB supplemented at 10%, no differences being observed among the other treatments. The basal substrate affected most fermentation parameters independently of biochar source and level used. Discussion. Biochar supplementation increased NH3-N content, iso-butyric, iso-valeric and valeric acid proportions, and decreased VFA production suggesting a reduced energy supply for microbial growth, higher proteolysis and deamination of substrate N, and a decrease of NH3-N incorporation into microbial protein. No interaction was found between substrate and biochar source or level on any of the parameters measured. Although AFB and PPB had different textural and compositional characteristics, their effects on the rumen fermentation parameters were similar, the only observed effects being due to AFB included at 10%. Biochar supplementation promoted CH4 production regardless of the source and inclusion level, suggesting that there may be other effects beyond biomass and temperature of production of biochar, highlighting the need to consider other characteristics to better identify the mechanism by which biochar may influence CH4 production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9488
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2020


  • Agro-forestry biochar
  • Enteric methane
  • Potato peel biochar
  • Rumen fermentation
  • Supplementation level


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