Soil Research Soil Research Society
Soil, land care and environmental research
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Stability and stabilisation of biochar and green manure in soil with different organic carbon contents

Joseph M. Kimetu A B and Johannes Lehmann A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

B Present address: Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE), Earth Sciences Building, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

C Corresponding author. Email: CL273@cornell.edu

Australian Journal of Soil Research 48(7) 577-585 https://doi.org/10.1071/SR10036
Submitted: 2 February 2010  Accepted: 9 July 2010   Published: 28 September 2010

Abstract

Due to its recalcitrance against microbial degradation, biochar is very stable in soil compared to other organic matter additions, making its application to soils a suitable approach for the build-up of soil organic carbon (SOC). The net effects of such biochar addition also depend on its interactions with existing organic matter in soils. A study was established to investigate how the status of pre-existing soil organic matter influences biochar stabilisation in soil in comparison to labile organic additions. Carbon loss was greater in the C-rich sites (C content 58.0 g C/kg) than C-poor soils (C content 21.0–24.0 g C/kg), regardless of the quality of the applied organic resource. Biochar-applied, C-rich soil showed greater C losses, by >0.5 kg/m2.year, than biochar-applied C-poor soil, whereas the difference was only 0.1 kg/m2.year with Tithonia diversifolia green manure. Biochar application reduced the rate of CO2-C loss by 27%, and T. diversifolia increased CO2-C losses by 22% in the C-poor soils. With biochar application, a greater proportion of C (6.8 times) was found in the intra-aggregate fraction per unit C respired than with green manure, indicating a more efficient stabilisation in addition to the chemical recalcitrance of biochar. In SOC-poor soils, biochar application enriched aromatic-C, carboxyl-C, and traces of ketones and esters mainly in unprotected organic matter and within aggregates, as determined by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. In contrast, additions of T. diversifolia biomass enriched conjugated carbonyl-C such as ketones and quinones, as well as CH deformations of aliphatic-C mainly in the intra-aggregate fraction. The data indicate that not only the stability but also the stabilisation of biochar exceeds that of a labile organic matter addition such as green manure.

Additional keywords: biochar, SOC stabilisation, SOM degradation, stability.


Acknowledgments

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant No. 0215890 and the Rockefeller Foundation under grant No. 2004 FS 104. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF. We would like to express our appreciation to field and laboratory technicians, Wilson Okila, Joseph Njeri, Wycliffe Kiilu, and Wilson Ngului who were very instrumental in the implementation of this work. We would like to thank Dr David Mbugua for coordinating the work both in the field and in the laboratory and the ICRAF-Kisumu office for logistical support. Many thanks to the Lehmann laboratory group at the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, for their encouragement and moral support throughout this study.


References


Baldock JA, Skjemstad JO (2000) Role of the soil matrix and minerals in protecting natural organic materials against biological attack. Organic Geochemistry 31, 697–710.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Baldock JA, Smernik RJ (2002) Chemical composition and bioavailability of thermally altered Pinus resinosa (Red pine) wood. Organic Geochemistry 33, 1093–1109.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Balesdent J , Mariotti A (1996) Measurement of soil organic matter turnover using 13C natural abundance. In ‘Mass spectrometry of soils’. (Eds TW Boutton, S Yamasaki) pp. 83–111. (Marcel Dekker: New York)

Bélanger N, Côté B, Fyles JW, Courchesne F, Hendershot WH (2004) Forest regrowth as the controlling factor of soil nutrient availability 75 years after fire in a deciduous forest of Southern Quebec. Plant and Soil 262, 363–372.
CrossRef | open url image1

Bernoux M, Cerri CC, Neill C, de Moraes (1998) The use of stable carbon isotopes for estimating soil organic matter turnover rates. Geoderma 82, 43–58.
CrossRef | open url image1

Brookes PC, Landman A, Pruden G, Jenkinson DS (1985) Chloroform fumigation and the release of soil nitrogen: a rapid direct extraction method to measure microbial biomass nitrogen in soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 17, 837–842.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Brown R (2009) Biochar production technology. In ‘Biochar for environmental management: science and technology’. (Eds J Lehmann, S Joseph) pp. 127–146. (Earthscan: London)

Campbell CA, Bowren KE, Schnitzer M, Zentner RP, Townley-Smith L (1991) Effect of crop rotations and fertilization on soil biochemical properties in a thick Black Chernozem. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 71, 377–387.
CAS |
open url image1

Chun Y, Sheng G, Chiou CT (2004) Evaluation of current techniques for isolation of chars as natural adsorbents. Environmental Science & Technology 38, 4227–4232.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed | open url image1

Edwards NT (1982) The use of soda-lime for measuring respiration rates in terrestrial systems. Pedobiologia 23, 321–330.
CAS |
open url image1

FAO-UNESCO (1997) ‘Soil map of the world.’ Revised Legend. (ISRIC: Wageningen Netherlands)

Gachengo CN, Palm CA, Jama B, Otieno C (1999) Tithonia diversifolia and senna green manures and inorganic fertilizers as phosphorus sources for maize in Western Kenya. Agroforestry Systems 44, 21–36.
CrossRef | open url image1

Giller KE , Cadisch G (1997) Driven by nature: a sense of arrival or departure. In ‘Driven by nature: Plant litter quality and decomposition’. (Eds G Cadisch, KE Giller) pp. 393–399. (CAB International: Wallingford, UK)

Glaser B, Lehmann J, Zech W (2002) Ameliorating physical and chemical properties of highly weathered soils in the tropics with charcoal – a review. Biology and Fertility of Soils 35, 219–230.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Grogan P (1998) CO2 flux measurement using soda lime: Correction for water formed during CO2 adsorption. Ecology 79, 1467–1468.
CrossRef | open url image1

Gulde S, Chung H, Amelung W, Chang C, Six J (2008) Soil carbon saturation controls labile and stable carbon pool dynamics. Soil Science Society of America Journal 72, 605–612.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Hassink J (1996) Preservation of plant residues in soils differing in unsaturated protective capacity. Soil Science Society of America Journal 60, 487–491.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Huggett RJ (1998) Soil chronosequences, soil development, and soil evolution: a critical review. Catena 32, 155–172.
CrossRef | open url image1

Huggins DR, Allmaras RR, Clapp CE, Lamb JA, Randall GW (2007) Corn-soybean sequence and tillage effects on soil carbon dynamics and storage. Soil Science Society of America Journal 71, 145–154.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Huggins DR, Clapp CE, Allmaras RR, Lamb JA, Layese MF (1998) Carbon dynamics in corn-soybean sequences as estimated from natural carbon-13 abundance. Soil Science Society of America Journal 62, 195–203.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Jama B, Palm CA, Buresh RJ, Niang A, Gachengo C, Nziguheba G, Amadalo B (2000) Tithonia diversifolia as a green manure for soil fertility improvement in western Kenya: a review. Agroforestry Systems 49, 201–221.
CrossRef | open url image1

Kimetu JM, Lehmann J, Kinyangi JM, Cheng CH, Thies J, Mugendi DN, Pell A (2009) Soil organic C stabilization and thresholds in C saturation. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 41, 2100–2104.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Kimetu JM, Lehmann J, Ngoze S, Mugendi DN, Kinyangi JM, Riha S, Verchot L, Recha JW, Pell A (2008) Reversibility of soil productivity decline with organic matter of differing quality along a degradation gradient. Ecosystems 11, 726–739.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Kimetu JM, Mugendi DN, Palm CA, Mutuo PK, Gachengo CN, Bationo A, Nandwa S, Kungu JB (2004) Nitrogen fertilizer equivalencies of organic materials of differing quality and optimum combination with inorganic nitrogen sources in Central Kenya. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 68, 127–135.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Kinyangi JM (2008) Soil degradation, thresholds and dynamics of long-term cultivation: From landscape biogeochemistry to nanoscale biogeocomplexity. PhD Dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Knoth K (2004) Fate of organic C and N in long-term agroecosystem experiments using 13C and 15N labeled plant residues. MS Thesis, University of Berlin, Germany.

Kuzyakov Y, Subbotina I, Chen H, Bogomolova I, Xu X (2009) Black carbon decomposition and incorporation into microbial biomass estimated by 14C labeling. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 41, 210–219.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Laird D, Brown RC, Amonette JE, Lehmann J (2009) Review of the pyrolysis platform for coproducing bio-oil and biochar. Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining 3, 547–562.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Lehmann J (2007) Biochar for mitigating climate change: carbon sequestration in the black. Forum Geoöekologie 18, 15–17. open url image1

Lehmann J, Cravo MS, Zech W (2001) Organic matter stabilization in a Xanthic Ferralsol of the central Amazon as affected by single trees: chemical characterization of density, aggregate, and particle size fractions. Geoderma 99, 147–168.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Lehmann J, Gaunt J, Rondon M (2006) Biol.-char sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems – a review. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 11, 403–427.
CrossRef | open url image1

Lehmann J, Liang B, Solomon D, Lerotic M, Luizão F, Kinyangi J, Schäfer T, Wirick S, Jacobsen C (2005) Near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy for mapping nano-scale distribution of organic carbon forms in soil: Application to black carbon particles. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 19, GB1013.
CrossRef | open url image1

Liang B, Lehmann J, Sohi SP, Thies JE, O’Neill B, Trujillo L, Gaunt J, Solomon D, Grossman J, Neves EG, Luizão FJ (2010) Black carbon affects the cycling of non-black carbon in soil. Organic Geochemistry 41, 206–213.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Liang B, Lehmann J, Solomon D, Kinyangi J, Grossman J, O’Neill B, Skjemstad JO, Thies J, Luizão FJ, Petersen J, Neves EG (2006) Black carbon increases cation exchange capacity in soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 70, 1719–1730.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Major J, Lehmann J, Rondon M, Goodale C (2010) Fate of soil-applied black carbon: downward migration, leaching and soil respiration. Global Change Biology 16, 1366–1379.
CrossRef | open url image1

Major J , Steiner C , Downie A , Lehmann J (2009) Biochar effects on nutrient leaching. In ‘Biochar for environmental management: science and technology’. (Eds J Lehmann, S Joseph) pp. 271–287. (Earthscan: London)

Mapfumo P, Mtambanengwe F, Vanlauwe B (2007) Organic matter quality and management effects on enrichment of soil organic matter fractions in contrasting soils in Zimbabwe. Plant and Soil 296, 137–150.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Mikan CJ, Abrams MD (1995) Altered forest composition and soil properties of historic charcoal hearths in southeastern Pennsylvania. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 25, 687–696.
CrossRef | open url image1

Neill BE (2007) Microbial communities in Amazonian dark Earth soils analyzed by culture-based and molecular approaches. MS Thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Ngoze S (2008) Soil nutrient depletion and repletion in a tropical agroecosystem. PhD Dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Ngoze S, Riha S, Lehmann J, Kinyangi J, Verchot L, Mbugua D, Pell A (2008) Nutrient constraints to tropical agroecosystem productivity in long-term degrading soils. Global Change Biology 14, 2810–2822.
CrossRef | open url image1

Nguyen B, Lehmann J, Kinyangi J, Smernik R, Riha SJ, Engelhard MH (2008) Long-term black carbon dynamics in cultivated soil. Biogeochemistry 89, 295–308.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Novak JM, Busscher WJ, Watts DW, Laird DA, Ahmedna MA, Niandou MAS (2010) Short-term CO2 mineralization after additions of biochar and switchgrass to a Typic Kandiudult. Geoderma 154, 281–288.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Palm CA, Gachengo CN, Delve RJ, Cadisch G, Giller KE (2001) Organic inputs for soil fertility management in tropical agroecosystems: application of an organic resource database. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 83, 27–42.
CrossRef | open url image1

Paustian K , Collins HP , Paul EA (1997) Management controls on soil carbon. In ‘Soil organic matter in temperate agroecosystems’. (Eds EA Paul, K Paustian, ET Elliott, CV Cole) pp. 15–49. (CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL)

Pietikäinen J, Kiikkilä O, Fritze H (2000) Charcoal as a habitat for microbes and its effects on the microbial community of the underlying humus. Oikos 89, 231–242.
CrossRef | open url image1

Puget P, Drinkwater LE (2001) Short-term dynamics of root- and shoot-derived carbon from a leguminous green manure. Soil Science Society of America Journal 65, 771–779.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Rothamsted Experimental Station (2005) ‘Genstat version 8.2.’ (VSN International: Harpenden, Hertfordshire, UK)

Schmidt MWI, Noack AG (2000) Black carbon in soils and sediments: Analysis, distribution, implications, and current challenges. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 14, 777–794.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Six J, Conant RT, Paul EA, Paustian K (2002) Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant and Soil 241, 155–176.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Sohi SP, Mahieu N, Arah JRM, Powlson DS, Madari B, Gaunt JL (2001) A procedure for isolating soil organic matter fractions suitable for modeling. Soil Science Society of America Journal 65, 1121–1128.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Solberg ED , Nyborg M , Izaurralde RC , Malhi SS , Janzen HH , Molina-Ayala M (1997) Carbon storage in soils under continuous cereal grain cropping: N fertilizer and straw. In ‘Management of carbon sequestration in soil’. (Eds R Lal, JM Kimble, RF Follett, BA Stewart) pp. 235–254. (CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL)

Solomon D, Fritzsche F, Lehmann J, Tekalign M, Zech W (2002) Soil organic matter dynamics in the subhumid agroecosystems of the Ethiopian Highlands: Evidence from natural 13C abundance and particle-size fractionation. Soil Science Society of America Journal 66, 969–978.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Spaccini R, Mbagwu JSC, Zena Teshale A, Igwe CA, Piccolo A (2002) Influence of the addition of organic residues on carbohydrate content and structural stability of some highland soils in Ethiopia. Soil Use and Management 18, 404–411.
CrossRef | open url image1

Spokas KA, Koskinen WC, Baker JM, Reicosky DC (2009) Impacts of woodchip biochar additions on greenhouse gas production and sorption/degradation of two herbicides in a Minnesota soil. Chemosphere 77, 574–581.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed | open url image1

Stewart CE, Paustian K, Conant RT, Plante AF, Six J (2007) Soil carbon saturation: concept, evidence and evaluation. Biogeochemistry 86, 19–31.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Stewart CE, Plante AF, Paustian K, Conant RT, Six J (2008) Soil carbon saturation: Linking concept and measurable carbon pools. Soil Science Society of America Journal 72, 379–392.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Thies JE , Rillig MC (2009) Characteristics of biochar: Biological properties. In ‘Biochar for environmental management: science and technology’. (Eds J Lehmann, S Joseph) pp. 85–105. (Earthscan: London)

Topoliantz S, Ponge JF, Arrouays D, Ballof S, Lavelle P (2002) Effect of organic manure and endogeic earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus (Oligochaeta: Glossoscolecidae) on soil fertility and bean production. Biology and Fertility of Soils 36, 313–319.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Tryon EH (1948) Effect of charcoal on certain physical, chemical, and biological properties of forest soils. Ecological Monographs 18, 81–115.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1

Wardle DA, Nilsson M, Zackrisson O (2008) Fire-derived charcoal causes loss of forest humus. Science 320, 629.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed | open url image1

Zimmermann M, Leifeld J, Fuhrer J (2007) Quantifying soil organic carbon fractions by infrared-spectroscopy. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39, 224–231.
CrossRef | CAS | open url image1








Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (108 KB) Export Citation Cited By (62)