Nitrogen leaching in croplands is a worldwide problem with implications both on human health and on the environment. Efforts should be taken to increase nutrient use efficiency and minimize N losses from terrestrial to water ecosystems. Soil-applied biochar has been reported to increase soil fertility and decrease nutrient leaching in tropical soils and under laboratory conditions. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of biochar addition on short-term N leaching from A soil horizon in a mature apple orchard growing on subalkaline soils located in the Po Valley (Italy). In spring 2009, 10 Mg of biochar per hectare was incorporated into the surface 20-cm soil layer by soil plowing. Cumulative nitrate (NO) and ammonium (NH) leaching was measured in treated and control plots 4 mo after the addition of biochar and the following year by using ion-exchange resin lysimeters installed below the plowed soil layer. Cumulative NO leaching was not affected by biochar after 4 mo, whereas in the following year it was significantly ( < 0.05) reduced by 75% over the control (from 5.5 to 1.4 kg ha). Conversely, NH leaching was very low and unaffected by soil biochar treatment. The present study shows that soil biochar addition can significantly decrease short-term nitrate leaching from the surface layer of a subalkaline soil under temperate climatic conditions.
"Biochar is a recalcitrant material produced by biomass pyrolysis and its addition to agricultural soils has been proposed as a climate change mitigation strategy able to offset up to 12% of the current anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (Lehmann, 2007; Woolf et al., 2010). Moreover, biochar was proved to: increase soil water availability (Baronti et al., 2014; Glaser et al., 2002), improve macro-nutrient cycling (Ventura et al., 2013), increase crop yields (Jeffery et al., 2011) and preserve quality of agricultural productions (Genesio et al., 2015; Vaccari et al., 2011). Although a large literature focused on biochar effects in agriculture, the impacts on soil biota have received much less attention compared to other topics and the better understanding of the complex interplay between biochar and soil biology has been identified as an urgent research priority (Lehmann et al., 2011). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biochar incorporation in agricultural soils has been proposed as a climate change mitigation strategy and has proved to substantially increase crop productivity via physical, chemical and biological mechanisms. The changes induced in soil properties are known to have a direct impact on soil ecosystem with consequences for soil biota community that, in turn, can influence biochar aging in soil. Despite several studies investigated in the interplay between biochar and soil microbiology, there is a clear lack of information on groups that live in the most superficial ground layers: soil meso and macro fauna. These groups are of great importance if we consider that biochar application should ideally be located in the soil's surface layer (0-30cm). Our study is the first attempt to investigate the interactions between biochar soil amendments and aboveground soil macro-meso fauna in a field crop. This was made setting-up a randomized-block experiment on a processing tomato crop in northern Italy, using three different biochar types and periodically monitoring soil parameters and fauna abundances along the crop growing cycle in summer 2013. Results show that the impact of biochar application on soil fauna as a whole is small when compared to that of agricultural management, suggesting that this amendment does not have short-term ecological interferences. Nevertheless, ants exhibited variations in abundances and distribution connected to properties of amended soils such as temperature, pH and humidity, proving that they can be effectively used as a target group in the study of interactions between biochar and soil biota.
Science of The Total Environment 12/2015; 536:449–456. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.019 · 4.10 Impact Factor
"The various proposed mechanisms are that enhanced nutrient retention due to cation and anion exchange reactions, immobilization of N due to labile C fraction of biochar, adsorption of organic N on biochar, etc. A large number of studies (Mizuta et al., 2004; Dempster et al., 2012b; Kameyama et al., 2012; Yao et al., 2012a, b; Chintala et al., 2013b; Ventura et al., 2013) have demonstrated decreases in leaching of nitrate (NO − 3 ) due to adsorption of NO − 3 on anion exchange surface of biochar. All these studies, however, have deemed high pyrolysis temperatures (> 600 • C) a prerequisite. "
"On the second sub sample, the available ammonium (NH 4 + ) and nitrate (NO 3 À ) were determined using the official methods of soil chemistry analysis (Benedetti et al., 2000). An ion-exchange resin lysimeter for each plot was assembled according to the procedure reported by Ventura et al. (2013) and manually placed in the soil below the biochar layer on June 6th at 0.40 m depth. The lysimeters were collected after four months since their placement (15th October), stored at 5 C and extracted in lab. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biochar addition to soil is a promising option for climate change mitigation and is recognized to exert beneficial effects on soil fertility. However, recent meta-analysis documented controversial effects on soil-plant interactions and on crop yields response. The data presented in this paper are the results of a field experiment on a processing tomato crop aiming to enhance the knowledge on the real applicability of biochar at farm scale in a high fertility alkaline soil. The effects of two biochar types on soil properties and on quantitative and qualitative parameters of processing tomato were evaluated. Biochar application significantly increased the soil carbon content, the soil cation exchange capacity and the availability of NH4+, P and K. Moreover, it stimulated plant growth and N, P and base cation contents at harvest, reducing the leaf water potential in the warmer period. These results demonstrate that also intensive cultivations in fertile soil can benefit from biochar amendment.
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