Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 345, Issue 1, pp 47-58

First online:

Effect of biochar amendment on the soil-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases from an intensive subtropical pasture in northern New South Wales, Australia

  • Clemens ScheerAffiliated withInstitute for Sustainable Resources Email author 
  • , Peter R. GraceAffiliated withInstitute for Sustainable Resources
  • , David W. RowlingsAffiliated withInstitute for Sustainable Resources
  • , Stephen KimberAffiliated withWollongbar Primary Industries Institute
  • , Lukas Van ZwietenAffiliated withWollongbar Primary Industries Institute

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We assessed the effect of biochar incorporation into the soil on the soil-atmosphere exchange of the greenhouse gases (GHG) from an intensive subtropical pasture. For this, we measured N2O, CH4 and CO2 emissions with high temporal resolution from April to June 2009 in an existing factorial experiment where cattle feedlot biochar had been applied at 10 t ha−1 in November 2006. Over the whole measurement period, significant emissions of N2O and CO2 were observed, whereas a net uptake of CH4 was measured. N2O emissions were found to be highly episodic with one major emission pulse (up to 502 μg N2O-N m−2 h−1) following heavy rainfall. There was no significant difference in the net flux of GHGs from the biochar amended vs. the control plots. Our results demonstrate that intensively managed subtropical pastures on ferrosols in northern New South Wales of Australia can be a significant source of GHG. Our hypothesis that the application of biochar would lead to a reduction in emissions of GHG from soils was not supported in this field assessment. Additional studies with longer observation periods are needed to clarify the long term effect of biochar amendment on soil microbial processes and the emission of GHGs under field conditions.


Denitrification Nitrification Improved pasture Biochar Nitrogen Carbon