, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 930-939
Date: 20 May 2011

Reducing CH4 and CO2 emissions from waterlogged paddy soil with biochar

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A potential means to diminish increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is the use of pyrolysis to convert biomass into biochar, which stabilizes the carbon (C) that is then applied to soil. Before biochar can be used on a large scale, especially in agricultural soils, its effects on the soil system need to be assessed. This is especially important in rice paddy soils that release large amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Materials and methods

In this study, the effects of biochar on CH4 and CO2 emissions from paddy soil with and without rice straw added as an additional C source were investigated. The biochars tested were prepared from bamboo chips or rice straw which yielded bamboo char (BC) and straw char (SC), respectively. BC and SC were applied to paddy soil to achieve low, medium, and high rates, based on C contents of the biochars. The biochar-amended soils were incubated under waterlogged conditions in the laboratory.

Results and discussion

Adding rice straw significantly increased CH4 and CO2 emissions from the paddy soil. However, when soils were amended with biochar, CH4 emissions were reduced. CH4 emissions from the paddy soil amended with BC and SC at high rate were reduced by 51.1% and 91.2%, respectively, compared with those without biochar. Methanogenic activity in the paddy soil decreased with increasing rates of biochar, whereas no differences in denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis patterns were observed. CO2 emission from the waterlogged paddy soil was also reduced in the biochar treatments.


Our results showed that SC was more effective than BC in reducing CH4 and CO2 emissions from paddy soils. The reduction of CH4 emissions from paddy soil with biochar amendment may result from the inhibition of methanogenic activity or a stimulation of methylotrophic activity during the incubation period.

Responsible editor: Chengrong Chen
Yuxue Liu and Min Yang contributed equally to this paper.