Long-term effects of softwood biochar on soil physical properties, greenhouse gas emissions and crop nutrient uptake in two contrasting boreal soils

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Kalu , S , Simojoki , A , Karhu , K & Tammeorg , P 2021 , ' Long-term effects of softwood biochar on soil physical properties, greenhouse gas emissions and crop nutrient uptake in two contrasting boreal soils ' , Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment , vol. 316 , 107454 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107454

Title: Long-term effects of softwood biochar on soil physical properties, greenhouse gas emissions and crop nutrient uptake in two contrasting boreal soils
Author: Kalu, Subin; Simojoki, Asko; Karhu, Kristiina; Tammeorg, Priit
Contributor organization: Department of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Forest Sciences
Soils and climate change
AgriChar research group
Sphagnum moss as a growing medium
Environmental Soil Science
Forest Soil Science and Biogeochemistry
Forest Ecology and Management
Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS)
Crop Science Research Group
Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
Plant Production Sciences
Date: 2021-08-15
Language: eng
Number of pages: 15
Belongs to series: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
ISSN: 0167-8809
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107454
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/329739
Abstract: Biochars (BC) have tremendous potential in mitigating climate change, and offer various agricultural and environmental benefits. However, there is limited information about the long-term effects of added biochars particularly from boreal regions. We studied the effects of a single application of softwood biochars on two contrasting boreal agricultural soils (nutrient-poor, coarse textured Umbrisol and fertile, fine-textured Stagnosol), both with high initial soil organic carbon contents, over eight years following the application. We focused on plant nutrient contents and nutrient uptake dynamics of different field crops over these years, as well as on soil physical properties and greenhouse gas emissions during seven to nine growing seasons. We found that, added biochars had minor long-term effects on the crop biomass yield, plant nutrient contents and plant nutrient uptake in both soil types. In terms of crop biomass yields, significant biochar × fertilization interactions were observed in barley (in 2013) and peas (in 2016), three and six years after the application of biochar in Stagnosol, respectively. In both cases, the biochar combined with the normal fertilization rate (100% of the recommended value) significantly increased crop biomass yield compared to corresponding fertilization treatment without biochar. However, the biochar had no effect at a lower fertilization rate (30% of the recommended value). Similar significant biochar × fertilization interactions were observed for several plant nutrient contents for peas in 2016, and for uptake for both barley in 2013 and peas in 2016. Thus, the ability of biochar to enhance the supply of nutrients to plants and hence to improve the crop biomass yield exists in boreal conditions, although these effects were minimal and not consistent over the years. Biochar notably increased plant K content, and also increased K:Mg ratio in plant biomass, suggesting a possible antagonistic effect of K on Mg in Umbrisol. Similar K antagonism on Na was observed in Stagnosol. The applied biochar also reduced the plant content and uptake of Al and Na in several years in Stagnosol. Furthermore, we found that, increased plant Mn content with biochar in the initial years subsequently declined over the following years in Umbrisol. On the other hand, the relative plant contents of Cd and Ni in Umbrisol, and P, K, Mg, S, Al, Cu, Fe and Ni in Stagnosol increased over the years. Despite these increased plant contents, no significant improvement was observed in crop biomass yield by added biochar over the years. The enhanced plant available water and reduced bulk density previously reported during the initial years were faded in long-term, likely due to dilution of biochar concentration in topsoil. However, the potential of biochar to affect N2O emission persisted, even seven years after the application.
Subject: 4112 Forestry
Field aging
Greenhouse gases
Plant nutrients
Soil physical properties
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by_nc_nd
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion
Funder: Valtion perusrahoitus/hankkeet
Grant number:

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