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Hardwood biochar influences calcareous soil physicochemical and microbiological status

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The effects of biochar application to calcareous soils are not well documented. In a laboratory incubation study, a hardwood-based, fast pyrolysis biochar was applied (0, 1, 2, and 10% by weight) to a calcareous soil. Changes in soil chemistry, water content, microbial respiration, and microbial community structure were monitored over a 12-month period. Increasing biochar application rate increased the water holding capacity of the soil-biochar blend, a trait that could be beneficial under water limited situations. Biochar application also caused an increase in plant-available iron and manganese, soil carbon content, soil respiration rates, bacterial populations, and a decrease in soil nitrate-nitrogen concentration. Biochar rates of 2 and 10% altered the relative proportions of bacterial and fungal fatty acids, and shifted the microbial community towards greater relative amounts of bacteria and less fungi. The ratio of fatty acid 19:0 cy to its precursor, 18:1ω7c, was higher in 10% biochar rate soil than all other soils, potentially indicating an environmental stress response. The 10% application rate of this particular biochar was extreme, causing the greatest change in microbial community structure, a physiological response to stress in Gram-negative bacteria, and a drastic reduction in soil nitate-nitrogen (85-97% reduction compared to the control), all of which were sustained over time.
J. A. Ippolito , M. E. Stromberger , R. D. Lentz
Gram-negative bacteria , application rate , biochar , calcareous soils , carbon , community structure , fatty acid composition , fatty acids , hardwood , iron , manganese , microbial communities , nitrate nitrogen , nutrient availability , soil amendments , soil bacteria , soil fertility , soil fungi , soil respiration , stress response , water content , water holding capacity
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of Environmental Quality 2014 v.43 no.2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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