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Biochar-mediated changes in soil quality and plant growth in a three year field trial

Jones, D. L.; Rousk, Johannes LU ; Edwards-Jones, G.; DeLuca, T. H. and Murphy, D. V. (2012) In Soil Biology & Biochemistry 45. p.113-124
Abstract
While many laboratory studies have focused on the short term effects of biochar addition to soil), there have been comparatively few tracing its longer term effects in the field. This study investigated the multiyear impact of biochar on crop performance and soil quality with specific emphasis on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling over a 3 y period. Biochar was added to an agricultural field at 0, 25 and 50 t ha(-1) and planted with maize (year 1) and grass (years 2 and 3). Biochar addition affected plant performance in the grass crop with significant increases in foliar N (year 2) and above-ground biomass (year 3). Below-ground, biochar increased soil respiration, fungal and bacterial growth rate and turnover in year 2. This change... (More)
While many laboratory studies have focused on the short term effects of biochar addition to soil), there have been comparatively few tracing its longer term effects in the field. This study investigated the multiyear impact of biochar on crop performance and soil quality with specific emphasis on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling over a 3 y period. Biochar was added to an agricultural field at 0, 25 and 50 t ha(-1) and planted with maize (year 1) and grass (years 2 and 3). Biochar addition affected plant performance in the grass crop with significant increases in foliar N (year 2) and above-ground biomass (year 3). Below-ground, biochar increased soil respiration, fungal and bacterial growth rate and turnover in year 2. This change coincided with a shift toward a bacterial dominated decomposer community, suggesting a decrease in the potential for microbially mediated C sequestration. Biochar did not affect dissolved organic C (DOC) and N (DON), NO3- or NH4+ pool sizes. Similarly, biochar addition had limited effects on the turnover of C-14-labelled SOC (plant litter), DOC (sugars and organic acids) and DON (amino acids) and no long term effect on N mineralization, NH3 volatilization, denitrification and NH4+ sorption. After 3 years in the field, the alkalinity associated with the biochar had been fully neutralized and biochar lost most of its cations (K, Na, Ca) but had built up an associated microbial community. We conclude that biochar addition to soil causes small and potentially transient changes in a temperate agroecosystem functioning. Importantly, many of the short-term effects of biochar on plant growth and soil behavior reported from laboratory studies were not observed in the field emphasizing the need for long term field trials to help inform agronomic management decisions involving biochar. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Black carbon, Black nitrogen, Carbon sequestration, Charcoal, Soil, organic matter, Climate change mitigation
in
Soil Biology & Biochemistry
volume
45
pages
113 - 124
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • wos:000299983700014
  • scopus:82055202888
ISSN
0038-0717
DOI
10.1016/j.soilbio.2011.10.012
project
Microbial carbon-use efficiency
Interaction between fungi and bacteria in soil
BECC
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4c8a0120-2d88-44c7-bc7d-b5beb84b143a (old id 2409838)
date added to LUP
2012-03-28 11:10:00
date last changed
2017-11-12 03:40:48
@article{4c8a0120-2d88-44c7-bc7d-b5beb84b143a,
  abstract     = {While many laboratory studies have focused on the short term effects of biochar addition to soil), there have been comparatively few tracing its longer term effects in the field. This study investigated the multiyear impact of biochar on crop performance and soil quality with specific emphasis on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling over a 3 y period. Biochar was added to an agricultural field at 0, 25 and 50 t ha(-1) and planted with maize (year 1) and grass (years 2 and 3). Biochar addition affected plant performance in the grass crop with significant increases in foliar N (year 2) and above-ground biomass (year 3). Below-ground, biochar increased soil respiration, fungal and bacterial growth rate and turnover in year 2. This change coincided with a shift toward a bacterial dominated decomposer community, suggesting a decrease in the potential for microbially mediated C sequestration. Biochar did not affect dissolved organic C (DOC) and N (DON), NO3- or NH4+ pool sizes. Similarly, biochar addition had limited effects on the turnover of C-14-labelled SOC (plant litter), DOC (sugars and organic acids) and DON (amino acids) and no long term effect on N mineralization, NH3 volatilization, denitrification and NH4+ sorption. After 3 years in the field, the alkalinity associated with the biochar had been fully neutralized and biochar lost most of its cations (K, Na, Ca) but had built up an associated microbial community. We conclude that biochar addition to soil causes small and potentially transient changes in a temperate agroecosystem functioning. Importantly, many of the short-term effects of biochar on plant growth and soil behavior reported from laboratory studies were not observed in the field emphasizing the need for long term field trials to help inform agronomic management decisions involving biochar. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.},
  author       = {Jones, D. L. and Rousk, Johannes and Edwards-Jones, G. and DeLuca, T. H. and Murphy, D. V.},
  issn         = {0038-0717},
  keyword      = {Black carbon,Black nitrogen,Carbon sequestration,Charcoal,Soil,organic matter,Climate change mitigation},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {113--124},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Soil Biology & Biochemistry},
  title        = {Biochar-mediated changes in soil quality and plant growth in a three year field trial},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2011.10.012},
  volume       = {45},
  year         = {2012},
}