Biochar has no effect on soil respiration across Chinese agricultural soils

Xiaoyu Liu, Jufeng Zheng, Dengxiao Zhang, Kun Cheng, Huimin Zhou, Afeng Zhang, Lianqing Li, Stephen Joseph, Pete Smith, David Crowley, Yakov Kuzyakov, Genxing Pan

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Abstract

Biochar addition to soil has been widely accepted as an option to enhance soil carbon sequestration by introducing recalcitrant organic matter. However, it remains unclear whether biochar will negate the net carbon accumulation by increasing carbon loss through CO2 efflux from soil (soil respiration). The objectives of this study were to address: 1) whether biochar addition increases soil respiration; and whether biochar application rate and biochar type (feedstock and pyrolyzing system) affect soil respiration. Two series of field experiments were carried out at 8 sites representing the main crop production areas in China. In experiment 1, a single type of wheat straw biochar was amended at rates of 0, 20 and 40tha(-1) in four rice paddies and three dry croplands. In experiment 2, four types of biochar (varying in feedstock and pyrolyzing system) were amended at rates of 0 and 20tha(-1) in a rice paddy under rice-wheat rotation. Results showed that biochar addition had no effect on CO2 efflux from soils consistently across sites, although it increased topsoil organic carbon stock by 38% on average. Meanwhile, CO2 efflux from soils amended with 40t of biochar did not significantly higher than soils amended with 20t of biochar. While the biochars used in Experiment 2 had different carbon pools and physico-chemical properties, they had no effect on soil CO2 efflux. The soil CO2 efflux following biochar addition could be hardly explained by the changes in soil physic-chemical properties and in soil microbial biomass. Thus, we argue that biochar will not negate the net carbon accumulation by increasing carbon loss through CO2 efflux in agricultural soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume554-555
Early online date5 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Keywords

  • biochar
  • soil respiration
  • carbon stability
  • greenhouse gas mitigation
  • agricultural soils
  • microbial activity

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    Liu, X., Zheng, J., Zhang, D., Cheng, K., Zhou, H., Zhang, A., Li, L., Joseph, S., Smith, P., Crowley, D., Kuzyakov, Y., & Pan, G. (2016). Biochar has no effect on soil respiration across Chinese agricultural soils. Science of the Total Environment, 554-555, 259-265. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.179