The Potential of Biochar Made from Agricultural Residues to Increase Soil Fertility and Microbial Activity: Impacts on Soils with Varying Sand Content
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Different types of soil respond variably to biochar amendment. Soil structure and fertility are properties which strongly affect the impacts of biochar on soil fertility and microbial activity. A pot experiment with lettuce was conducted to verify whether biochar amendment is more beneficial in sandy soil than in clay soil. The nutrient content (carbon and nitrogen), microbial biomass carbon, soil respiration, metabolic quotient, and plant biomass yield were determined. The treatments were prepared by mixing silty clay loam (Haplic Luvisol) with a quartz sand in ratios of 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% of sand; the same six treatments were prepared and amended with biochar (12 treatments in total). Soil carbon and nitrogen, microbial biomass carbon, and soil respiration were indirectly dependent on the descending sand ratio, whereas the metabolic quotient increased with the ascending sand ratio. The biochar's effects were positive for total carbon, microbial biomass carbon, metabolic quotient, and plant biomass in the sand-rich treatments. The maximum biochar-derived benefit in crop yield was found in the 100% sand + biochar treatment, which exhibited 24-fold (AGB) and 11-fold (root biomass) increases compared to the unamended treatment. The biochar application on coarse soil types with lower fertility was proven to be favorable.
Keywordspot experiment, Lactuca sativa, soil respiration, metabolic quotient, crop yield, total soil nitrogen
Document typePeer reviewed
Document versionFinal PDF
SourceAgronomy. 2021, vol. 11, issue 6, p. 1-17.