, Volume 351, Issue 1-2, pp 263-275
Date: 10 Sep 2011

Effect of biochar amendment on maize yield and greenhouse gas emissions from a soil organic carbon poor calcareous loamy soil from Central China Plain

Abstract

Aims

A field experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of biochar on maize yield and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in a calcareous loamy soil poor in organic carbon from Henan, central great plain, China.

Methods

Biochar was applied at rates of 0, 20 and 40 t ha−1 with or without N fertilization. With N fertilization, urea was applied at 300 kg N ha−1, of which 60% was applied as basal fertilizer and 40% as supplementary fertilizer during crop growth. Soil emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O were monitored using closed chambers at 7 days intervals throughout the whole maize growing season (WMGS).

Results

Biochar amendments significantly increased maize production but decreased GHGs. Maize yield was increased by 15.8% and 7.3% without N fertilization, and by 8.8% and 12.1% with N fertilization under biochar amendment at 20 t ha−1 and 40 t ha−1, respectively. Total N2O emission was decreased by 10.7% and by 41.8% under biochar amendment at 20 t ha−1 and 40 t ha−1 compared to no biochar amendment with N fertilization. The high rate of biochar (40 t ha−1) increased the total CO2 emission by 12% without N fertilization. Overall, biochar amendments of 20 t ha−1 and 40 t ha−1 decreased the total global warming potential (GWP) of CH4 and N2O by 9.8% and by 41.5% without N fertilization, and by 23.8% and 47.6% with N fertilization, respectively. Biochar amendments also decreased soil bulk density and increased soil total N contents but had no effect on soil mineral N.

Conclusions

These results suggest that application of biochar to calcareous and infertile dry croplands poor in soil organic carbon will enhance crop productivity and reduce GHGs emissions.

Responsible Editor: Johannes Lehmann.