Plant and Soil

, Volume 333, Issue 1–2, pp 443–452

Ethylene: potential key for biochar amendment impacts

  • Kurt A. Spokas
  • John M. Baker
  • Donald C. Reicosky
Regular Article

Abstract

Significant increases in root density, crop growth and productivity have been observed following soil additions of biochar, which is a solid product from the pyrolysis of biomass. In addition, alterations in the soil microbial dynamics have been observed following biochar amendments, with decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) respiration, suppression of methane (CH4) oxidation and reduction of nitrous oxide (N2O) production. However, there has not been a full elucidation of the mechanisms behind these effects. Here we show data on ethylene production that was observed from biochar and biochar-amended soil. Ethylene is an important plant hormone as well as an inhibitor for soil microbial processes. Our current hypothesis is that the ethylene is biochar derived, with a majority of biochars exhibiting ethylene production even without soil or microbial inoculums. There was increased ethylene production from non-sterile compared to sterile soil (215%), indicating a role of soil microbes in the observed ethylene production. Production varied with different biomass sources and production conditions. These observations provide a tantalizing insight into a potential mechanism behind the biochar effects observed, particularly in light of the important role ethylene plays in plant and microbial processes.

Keywords

Biochar Black carbon Charcoal Greenhouse gas 

References

  1. Abeles FB, Morgan PW, Saltveit ME Jr (1992) Ethylene in plant biology. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Arshad M, Frankenberger WT (1990) Ethylene accumulation in response to organic amendments. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54:1026–1031CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arshad M, Frankenberger WT (1991) Microbial production of plant hormones. Plant Soil 133:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arshad M, Frankenberger WT (2002) Ethylene: agricultural sources and applications. Kluwer Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Banerjee NK, Mosier AR (1989) Coated calcium carbide as a nitrification inhibitor in upland and flooded soils. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 37:306–313Google Scholar
  6. Bronson KF, Mosier AR (1991) Effect of encapsulated calcium carbide on dinitrogen, nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide emission from flooded rice. Biol Fert Soils 11:116–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burford JR (1975) Ethylene in grassland soil treated with animal excreta. J Environ Qual 4:55–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell RB, Moreau RA (1979) Ethylene in compacted field soil and its effect on growth, tuber quality and yield of potatoes. Am Potato J 56:199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cao X, Ma L, Gao B, Harris W (2009) Dairy-manure derived biochar effectively sorbs lead and atrazine. Environ Sci Technol 43:3285–3291CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Chan KY, Van Zwieten L, Meszaros I, Downie A, Joseph S (2007) Agronomic values of greenwaste biochar as a soil amendment. Aust J Soil Res 45:629–634CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frankenberger WT, Arshad M (1995) Phytohormones in soils—microbial production and function. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Guerro M, Ruzi MP, Alzuet MU, Bilbao R, Miller A (2005) Pyrolysis of eucalyptus at different heating rates: studies of char characterization and oxidative reactivity. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis 74:307–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ioannou N, Schneider RW, Grogan RG (1977) Effect of flooding on the soil gas composition and the production of microsclerotia by Verticillium dahliae in the field. Phytopathology 67:651–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jäckel U, Schnell S, Conrad R (2004) Microbial ethylene production and inhibition of methanotrophic activity in a deciduous forest soil. Soil Biol Biochem 36:835–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kashif SR, Yaseen M, Arshad M, Abbas M (2007) Evaluation of calcium carbide as a soil amendment to improve nitrogen economy of soil and yield of okra. Soil Environ 26:69–74Google Scholar
  16. Lehmann J (2007) A handful of carbon. Nature 447:143–144CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lehmann J, Joseph S (2009) Biochar for environmental management: science and technology. EarthScan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. McCarty GW, Bremner JM (1991) Inhibition of nitrification in soil by gaseous hydrocarbons. Biol Fertil Soils 11:231–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marris E (2006) Putting the carbon back: black is the new green. Nature 442:624–626CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. McDermot HL, Arnell JC, Lawton BE (1995) Charcoal sorption studies: iii. The adsorption of ethylene and perfluoroethylene by an activated charcoal. Can J Chem 33:320–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Novak JM, Lima I, Xing B, Gaskin JW, Steiner C, Das KC, Ahmedna M, Rehrah D, Watts DW, Busscher WJ, Schomberg H (2009) Characterization of designer biochar produced at different temperatures and their effects on a loamy sand. Ann Environ Sci 3:195–206Google Scholar
  22. Ortega-Martinez O, Pernas M, Carol RJ, Dolan L (2007) Ethylene modulates stem cell division in the Arabidopsis thaliana root. Science 317:507–510CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Paushkin YM, Lapidus AL, Andelson SV (1994) Plant biomass as raw material for the production of olefins and motor fuels. Chem Tech Fuels Oils 30:249–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Porter LK (1992) Ethylene inhibition of ammonium oxidation in soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 56:102–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Renner R (2007) Rethinking biochar. Environ Sci Technol 41:5932–5933CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Rondon M, Ramirez JA, Lehmann J (2005) Charcoal additions reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. In: Proceedings of the 3rd USDA Symposium on Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry, 2005 Mar 21-24. University of Delaware, DelawareGoogle Scholar
  27. Rondon MA, Molina D, Hurtado M, Ramirez J, Lehmann J, Major J, Amezquita E (2006) Enhancing the productivity of crops and grasses while reducing greenhouse gas emissions through bio-char amendments to unfertile tropical soils. Presentation at the 18th World Congress of Soil Science, Philadelphia, PA, July 9–15, 2006, Presentation #138–68Google Scholar
  28. Sensöz S (2003) Slow pyrolysis of wood barks from Pinus brutia Ten. and product compositions. Biores Technol 89:307–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sheard RW, Leyshon AJ (1976) Short-term flooding soil: its effect on the composition of gas and water phases of soil and on phosphorus uptake of corn. Can J Soil Sci 56:9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Smith KA, Russell RS (1969) Occurrence of ethylene, and its significance, in anaerobic soil. Nature 222:769–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Spokas K, Reicosky D (2009) Impacts of sixteen different biochars on soil greenhouse gas production. Ann Environ Sci 3:179–193Google Scholar
  32. 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 77:574–581CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Steinburg M, Fallon PT, Sundaram MS (1992) The flash pyrolysis and methanolysis of biomass (wood) for production of ethylene, benzene, and methanol. In: Novel production methods for ethylene, light hydrocarbons, and aromatic. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Van Zwieten L, Singh B, Joseph S, Kimber S, Cowie A, Chan KY (2009) Biochar and emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases from soil. In: Lehmann J, Joseph S (eds) Biochar for environmental management: science and technology. Earthscan, London, pp 227–249Google Scholar
  35. Wardle DA, Nilsson M-C, Zackrisson O (2008) Fire-derived charcoal causes loss of forest humus. Science 320:629CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Warnock DD, Lehmann J, Kuypern TW, Rilling MC (2007) Mycorrhizal response to charcoal in soil—concepts and mechanisms. Plant Soil 300:9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yanai Y, Toyota K, Okazani M (2007) Effects of charcoal addition on N2O emissions from soil resulting from rewetting air-dried soil in short-term laboratory experiments. Soil Sci Plant Nutri 53:181–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang SF, Hoffman NE (1984) Ethylene biosynthesis and its regulation in higher plants. Ann Rev Plant Physiol 35:155–189Google Scholar
  39. Yang Y, Sheng G (2003) Enhanced pesticide sorption by soils containing particulate matter from crop residue burns. Environ Sci Technol 37:3635–3639CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Yaseen M, Arshad M, Khalid A (2006) Effect of acetylene and ethylene gases released from encapsulated calcium carbide on growth and yield of wheat and cotton. Pedobiologia 50:405–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zackrisson O, Nilsson M-C, Wardle DA (1996) Key ecological function of charcoal from wildfire in the Boreal forest. Oikos 77:10–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zechmeister-Boltenstern S, Smith KA (1998) Ethylene production and decomposition in soils. Biol Fert Soils 26:354–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt A. Spokas
    • 1
    • 2
  • John M. Baker
    • 1
    • 2
  • Donald C. Reicosky
    • 3
  1. 1.United States Department of AgricultureAgriculture Research ServiceSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Soil, Water and ClimateUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.United States Department of AgricultureAgriculture Research ServiceMorrisUSA

Personalised recommendations