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The effect of young biochar on soil respiration

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The low temperature pyrolysis of organic material produces biochar, a charcoal like substance. Biochar is being promoted as a soil amendment to enhance soil quality, it is also seen as a mechanism of long-term sequestration of carbon. Our experiments tested the hypothesis that biochar is inert in soil. However, we measured an increase in CO2 production from soils after biochar amendment which increased with increasing rates of biochar. The ∂13C signature of the CO2 evolved in the first several days of the incubation was the same as the ∂13C signature of the biochar, confirming that biochar contributed to the CO2 flux. This effect diminished by day 6 of the incubation suggesting that most of the biochar C is slowly decomposing. Thus, aside from this short-term mineralization increasing soil C with young biochar may indeed be a long-term C storage mechanism.
Smith, Jeffrey L. , Collins, Harold P. , Bailey, Vanessa L.
Includes references
Soil biology & biochemistry 2010 Dec., v. 42, issue 12
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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