Plant and Soil

, Volume 354, Issue 1–2, pp 311–324

Decreased soil microbial biomass and nitrogen mineralisation with Eucalyptus biochar addition to a coarse textured soil

  • D. N. Dempster
  • D. B. Gleeson
  • Z. M. Solaiman
  • D. L. Jones
  • D. V. Murphy
Regular Article

Abstract

Background and Aims

Biochar has been shown to aid soil fertility and crop production in some circumstances. We investigated effects of the addition of Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) biochar to a coarse textured soil on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics.

Methods

Wheat was grown for 10 weeks, in soil treated with biochar (0, 5, or 25 t ha−1) in full factorial combination with nitrogen (N) treatments (organic N, inorganic N, or control). Samples were analysed for plant biomass, soil microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and nitrogen (MBN), N mineralisation, CO2 evolution, community level physiological profiles (CLPP) and ammonia oxidising bacterial community structure.

Results

MBC significantly decreased with biochar addition while MBN was unaltered. Net N mineralisation was highest in control soil and significantly decreased with increasing addition of biochar. These findings could not be attributed to sorption of inorganic N to biochar. CO2 evolution decreased with 5 t ha−1 biochar but not 25 t ha−1. Biochar addition at 25 t ha−1 changed the CLPP, while the ammonia oxidising bacterial community structure changed only when biochar was added with a N source.

Conclusion

We conclude that the activity of the microbial community decreased in the presence of biochar, through decreased soil organic matter decomposition and N mineralisation which may have been caused by the decreased MBC.

Keywords

Black carbon Fertility Surface area Sorption Nitrogen cycling Priming effect 

Abbreviations

ANOVA

analysis of variance

AOB

ammonia oxidising bacteria

BC

black carbon

CLPP

community level physiological profile

DMRT

Duncan’s multiple range test

EC

electrical conductivity

IRGA

infra-red gas analyser

MBC

microbial biomass carbon

MBN

microbial biomass nitrogen

PCR

polymerase chain reaction

PERMANOVA

permutational analysis of variance

T-RFLP

terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism

WHC

water holding capacity

Supplementary material

11104_2011_1067_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (5 kb)
Esm. 1(PDF 5.07 kb)
11104_2011_1067_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (8 kb)
Esm. 2(PDF 8 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. N. Dempster
    • 1
  • D. B. Gleeson
    • 1
  • Z. M. Solaiman
    • 1
  • D. L. Jones
    • 2
  • D. V. Murphy
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Biology Group, School of Earth and Environment, UWA Institute of Agriculture, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.School of the Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Environment Centre WalesBangor UniversityGwyneddUK

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