Advertisement

Plant and Soil

, Volume 426, Issue 1–2, pp 211–225 | Cite as

How does biochar influence soil N cycle? A meta-analysis

  • Qi Liu
  • Yanhui Zhang
  • Benjuan Liu
  • James E. Amonette
  • Zhibin Lin
  • Gang Liu
  • Per AmbusEmail author
  • Zubin XieEmail author
Regular Article

Abstract

Background and aims

Modern agriculture is driving the release of excessive amounts of reactive nitrogen (N) from the soils to the environment, thereby threatening ecological balances and functions. The amendment of soils with biochar has been suggested as a promising solution to regulate the soil N cycle and reduce N effluxes. However, a comprehensive and quantitative understanding of biochar impacts on soil N cycle remains elusive.

Methods

A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the influence of biochar on different variables involved in soil N cycle using data compiled across 208 peer-reviewed studies.

Results

On average, biochar beneficially increases symbiotic biological N2 fixation (63%), improves plant N uptake (11%), reduces soil N2O emissions (32%), and decreases soil N leaching (26%), but it poses a risk of increased soil NH3 volatilization (19%). Biochar-induced increase in soil NH3 volatilization commonly occurs in studies with soils of low buffering capacity (soil pH ≤ 5, organic carbon≤10 g kg−1, or clay texture), the application of high alkaline biochar (straw- or manure-derived biochar), or biochar at high application rate (>40 t ha−1). Besides, if the pyrolytic syngas is not purified, the biochar production process may be a potential source of N2O and NOx emissions which correspond to 2–4% and 3–24% of the feedstock-N, respectively.

Conclusions

This study suggests that to make biochar beneficial for decreasing soil N effluxes, clean advanced pyrolysis technique and adapted use of biochar are of great importance.

Keywords

Biochar Soil properties Nitrogen cycle Meta-analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge support for this research from the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. NFSC-41171191), Special Project on Agricultural Science and Technology (201503137), Special Project on the Basis of National Science and Technology of China: National Survey of Biological Nitrogen Fixation Resources in Paddies of China (2015FY110700),the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation for financial support to Sino-Danish cooperation on biochar as a tool to mitigate climate change (No 1370-00036B), the Science and Technology Supporting Project of China (2013BAD11B01), and the Science and Technology Supporting Project of Jiangsu Province (BE2013451), and Blue Moon Fund USA.

Supplementary material

11104_2018_3619_MOESM1_ESM.docx (325 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 325 kb)

References

  1. Adams DC, Gurevitch J, Rosenberg MS (1997) Resampling tests for meta-analysis of ecological data. Ecology 78:1277–1283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adouane B, Hoppesteyn P, de Jong W, van der Wel M, Hein KR, Spliethoff H (2002) Gas turbine combustor for biomass derived LCV gas, a first approach towards fuel-NOx modelling and experimental validation. Appl Therm Eng 22:959–970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmad M, Lee SS, Dou X, Mohan D, Sung JK, Yang JE, Ok YS (2012) Effects of pyrolysis temperature on soybean Stover- and peanut shell-derived biochar properties and TCE adsorption in water. Bioresour Technol 118:536–544CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson CR, Condron LM, Clough TJ, Fiers M, Stewart A, Hill RA, Sherlock RR (2011) Biochar induced soil microbial community change: implications for biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. Pedobiologia 54:309–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Antoniou P, Hamilton J, Koopman B, Jain R, Holloway B, Lyberatos G, Svoronos SA (1990) Effect of temperature and pH on the effective maximum specific growth rate of nitrifying bacteria. Water Res 24:97–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arif M, Jalal F, Jan MT, Muhammad D, Quilliam RS (2015) Incorporation of biochar and legumes into the summer gap: improving productivity of cereal-based cropping systems in Pakistan. Agroecol Sust Food 39:391–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barnard R, Leadley PW, Hungate BA (2005) Global change, nitrification, and denitrification: a review. Global Biogeochem Cy 19:GB1007Google Scholar
  8. Bateman EJ, Baggs EM (2005) Contributions of nitrification and denitrification to N2O emissions from soils at different water-filled pore space. Biol Fert Soils 41:379–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Batjes NH (2015) World soil property estimates for broad-scale modelling (WISE30sec). Report 2015/01, ISRIC-World Soil Information, Wageningen (with data set, available at www.isric.org)
  10. Bhandari PN, Kumar A, Huhnke RL (2014) Simultaneous removal of toluene (model tar), NH3, and H2S, from biomass-generated producer gas using biochar-based and mixed-metal oxide catalysts. Energy Fuel 28:1918–1925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Biederman LA, Harpole WS (2013) Biochar and its effects on plant productivity and nutrient cycling: a meta-analysis. GCB Bioenergy 5:202–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bouwman AF, Fung I, Matthews E, John J (1993) Global analysis of the potential for N2O production in natural soils. Global Biogeochem Cy 7:557–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cameron KC, Di HJ, Moir JL (2013) Nitrogen losses from the soil/plant system: a review. Ann Appl Biol 162:145–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cao CT, Farrell C, Kristiansen PE, Rayner JP (2014) Biochar makes green roof substrates lighter and improves water supply to plants. Ecol Eng 71:368–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cayuela ML, Sánchez-Monedero MA, Roig A, Hanley K, Enders A, Lehmann J (2013) Biochar and denitrification in soils: when, how much and why does biochar reduce N2O emissions? Sci Rep 3:1732CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Cayuela ML, Zwieten LV, Singh BP, Jeffery S, Roig A, Sánchez-Monedero MA (2014) Biochar's role in mitigating soil nitrous oxide emissions: a review and meta-analysis. Agric Ecosyst Environ 191:5–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clough TJ, Condron LM, Kammann C, Müller C (2013) A review of biochar and soil nitrogen dynamics. Agronomy 3:275–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cranedroesch A, Abiven S, Jeffery S, Torn MS (2013) Heterogeneous global crop yield response to biochar: a meta-regression analysis. Environ Res Lett 8:925–932Google Scholar
  19. Deenik JL, McClellan T, Uehara G, Antal MJ, Campbell S (2010) Charcoal volatile matter content influences plant growth and soil nitrogen transformations. Soil Sci Soc Am J 74:1259–1270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. DeLuca TH, MacKenzie MD, Gundale MJ, Holben WE (2006) Wildfire-produced charcoal directly influences nitrogen cycling in ponderosa pine forests. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:448–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ducey TF, Ippolito JA, Cantrell KB, Novak JM, Lentz RD (2013) Addition of activated switchgrass biochar to an aridic subsoil increases microbial nitrogen cycling gene abundances. Appl Soil Ecol 65:65–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Erisman JW, Sutton MA, Galloway J, Klimont Z, Winiwarter W (2008) How a century of ammonia synthesis changed the world. Nat Geosci 1:636–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (2014) Statistics: Fertilizers input. (http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/RF)
  24. Gai X, Wang H, Liu J, Zhai L, Liu S, Ren T, Liu H (2014) Effects of feedstock and pyrolysis temperature on biochar adsorption of ammonium and nitrate. PLoS One 9:e113888CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Gruber N, Galloway JN (2008) An earth-system perspective of the global nitrogen cycle. Nature 451:293–296CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Gurevitch J, Hedges LV (1993) Meta-analysis: combining the results of independent experiments. In: Scheiner SM, Gurevitch J (eds) Design and analysis of ecological experiments. Chapman and Hall, New York, New York, USA, pp 378–389Google Scholar
  27. Harter J, Krause HM, Schuettler S, Ruser R, Fromme M, Scholten T, Behrens S (2014) Linking N2O emissions from biochar-amended soil to the structure and function of the N-cycling microbial community. The ISME journal 8:660–674CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Hayhurst AN, Lawrence AD (1992) Emissions of nitrous oxide from combustion sources. Prog Energ Combust 18:529–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hämäläinen JP, Aho MJ (1996) Conversion of fuel nitrogen through HCN and NH3 to nitrogen oxides at elevated pressure. Fuel 75:1377–1386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. He Y, Zhou X, Jiang L, Li M, Du Z, Zhou G, Wallace H (2017) Effects of biochar application on soil greenhouse gas fluxes: a meta-analysis. GCB Bioenergy 9:743–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hedges LV, Gurevitch J, Curtis PS (1999) The meta-analysis of response ratios in experimental ecology. Ecology 80:1150–1156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jeffery S, Abalos D, Prodana M, Bastos A, van Groenigen JW, Hungate B, Verheijen F (2017) Biochar boosts tropical but not temperate crop yields. Environ Res Lett 12:053001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Cha JS, Park SH, Jung SC, Ryu C, Jeon JK, Shin MC, Park YK (2016) Production and utilization of biochar: a review. J Ind Eng Chem 40:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Johansson EM, Järås SG (1999) Circumventing fuel-NOx formation in catalytic combustion of gasified biomass. Catal Today 47:359–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kanthle AK, Lenka NK, Lenka S, Tedia K (2016) Biochar impact on nitrate leaching as influenced by native soil organic carbon in an Inceptisol of Central India. Soil Till Res 157:65–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kastner JR, Miller J, Das KC (2009) Pyrolysis conditions and ozone oxidation effects on ammonia adsorption in biomass generated chars. J Hazard Mater 164:1420–1427CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Knicker H (2010) “Black nitrogen”–an important fraction in determining the recalcitrance of charcoal. Org Geochem 41:947–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kontopoulou CK, Liasis E, Iannetta PPM, Tampakaki A, Savvas D (2017) Impact of rhizobial inoculation and reduced N supply on biomass production and biological N2 fixation in common bean grown hydroponically. J Sci Food Agric 97:4353–4361CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Kuroiwa M, Koba K, Isobe K, Tateno R, Nakanishi A, Inagaki Y, Yoh M (2011) Gross nitrification rates in four Japanese forest soils: heterotrophic versus autotrophic and the regulation factors for the nitrification. J Forest Res 16:363–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kwiatkowski K, Dudyński M, Bajer K (2013) Combustion of low-calorific waste biomass syngas. Flow Turbul Combust 91:749–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lal R (2005) World crop residues production and implications of its use as a biofuel. Environ Int 31:575–584CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lehmann J, Liang B, Solomon D, Lerotic M, Luizão F, Kinyangi J, Schafer T, Wirick S, Jacobsen C (2005) Near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy for mapping nano-scale distribution of organic carbon forms in soils: application to black carbon particles. Global Biogeochem Cy 19: GB1013Google Scholar
  43. Leppälahti J, Koljonen T (1995) Nitrogen evolution from coal, peat and wood during gasification: literature review. Fuel Process Technol 43:1–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Liang B, Lehmann J, Solomon D, Kinyangi J, Grossman J, O'neill B, Neves EG (2006) Black carbon increases cation exchange capacity in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:1719–1730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Liu J, You L, Amini M, Obersteiner M, Herrero M, Zehnder AJ, Yang H (2010) A high-resolution assessment on global nitrogen flows in cropland. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:8035–8040CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. Liu Q, Liu BJ, Ambus P, Zhang Y, Hansen V, Lin Z, Shen D, Liu G, Bei Q, Zhu J, Wang X, Ma J, Lin X, Yu Y, Zhu C, Xie Z (2016) Carbon footprint of rice production under biochar amendment-a case study in a Chinese rice cropping system. GCB Bioenergy 8:148–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Liu Q, Liu B, Zhang Y, Lin Z, Zhu T, Sun R, Wang X, Ma J, Bei Q, Liu G, Lin X, Xie Z (2017) Can biochar alleviate soil compaction stress on wheat growth and mitigate soil N2O emissions? Soil Biol Biochem 104:8–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lu RK, Shi TJ (1982) Handbook of agricultural chemistry. Science Press, Beijing, China (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  49. Mandal S, Sarkar B, Bolan N, Novak J, Ok YS, van Zwieten L, Singh BP, Kirkham MB, Choppala G, Spokas K, Naidu R (2016) Designing advanced biochar products for maximizing greenhouse gas mitigation potential. Crit Revt Env Sci Tec 46:1367–1401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Meyer S, Glaser B, Quicker P (2011) Technical, economical, and climate-related aspects of biochar production technologies: a literature review. Environ Sci Technol 45:9473–9483CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Mia S, Van Groenigen JW, Van de Voorde TFJ, Oram NJ, Bezemer TM, Mommer L, Jeffery S (2014) Biochar application rate affects biological nitrogen fixation in red clover conditional on potassium availability. Agric Ecosyst Environ 191:83–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mukherjee A, Lal R (2014) The biochar dilemma. Soil Res 52:217–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nelissen V, Rütting T, Huygens D, Staelens J, Ruysschaert G, Boeckx P (2012) Maize biochars accelerate short-term soil nitrogen dynamics in a loamy sand soil. Soil Biol Biochem 55:20–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nguyen TTN, Xu CY, Tahmasbian I, Che R, Xu Z, Zhou X, Bai SH (2017) Effects of biochar on soil available inorganic nitrogen: a review and meta-analysis. Geoderma 288:79–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Novak JM, Busscher WJ, Watts DW (2012) Biochars impact on soil-moisture storage in an Ultisol and two Aridisols. Soil Sci 177:310–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pan B, Lam SK, Mosier A, Luo Y, Chen D (2016) Ammonia volatilization from synthetic fertilizers and its mitigation strategies: a global synthesis. Agric Ecosyst Environ 232:283–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Parfitt RL, Giltrap DJ, Whitton JS (1995) Contribution of organic matter and clay minerals to the cation exchange capacity of soils. Commun Soil Sci Plan 26:1343–1355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Prommer J, Wanek W, Hofhansl F, Trojan D, Offre P, Urich T, Hood-Nowotny RC (2014) Biochar decelerates soil organic nitrogen cycling but stimulates soil nitrification in a temperate arable field trial. PLoS One 9:e86388CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  59. Quilliam RS, DeLuca TH, Jones DL (2013) Biochar application reduces nodulation but increases nitrogenase activity in clover. Plant Soil 366:83–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ren Q, Zhao C (2013) NOx and N2O precursors from biomass pyrolysis: role of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Environ Sci Technol 47(15):8955–8961PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Rondon MA, Lehmann J, Ramírez J, Hurtado M (2007) Biological nitrogen fixation by common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) increases with bio-char additions. Biol Fert Soils 43:699–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rosenberg MS, Adams DC, Gurevitch J (2000) MetaWin: statistical software for meta-analysis. Version 2. Sunderland, Massachusetts. Sinauer AssociatesGoogle Scholar
  63. Saxton KE, Rawls W, Romberger JS, Papendick RI (1986) Estimating generalized soil-water characteristics from texture. Soil Sci Soc Am J 50:1031–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sánchez-García M, Roig A, Sánchez-Monedero MA, Cayuela ML (2014) Biochar increases soil N2O emissions produced by nitrification-mediated pathways. Front Environ Sci 2:25Google Scholar
  65. Shirazi MA, Boersma L (1984) A unifying quantitative analysis of soil texture. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:142–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Silber A, Levkovitch I, Graber ER (2010) pH-dependent mineral release and surface properties of corn straw biochar: agronomic implications. Environ Sci Technol 44:9318–9323CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Singh BP, Hatton BJ, Singh B, Cowie AL, Kathuria A (2010) Influence of biochars on nitrous oxide emission and nitrogen leaching from two contrasting soils. J Environ Qual 39:1224–1235CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Smith JL, Collins HP, Bailey VL (2010) The effect of young biochar on soil respiration. Soil Biol Biochem 42:2345–2347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sohi SP (2012) Carbon storage with benefits. Science 338:1034–1035CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Song Y, Zhang X, Ma B, Chang SX, Gong J (2014) Biochar addition affected the dynamics of ammonia oxidizers and nitrification in microcosms of a coastal alkaline soil. Biol Fert Soils 50:321–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sparrevik M, Field JL, Martinsen V, Breedveld GD, Cornelissen G (2013) Life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental impact of biochar implementation in conservation agriculture in Zambia. Environ Sci Technol 47:1206–1215CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Sun L, Li L, Chen Z, Wang J, Xiong Z (2014) Combined effects of nitrogen deposition and biochar application on emissions of N2O, CO2 and NH3 from agricultural and forest soils. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 60:254–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sun H, Min J, Zhang H, Feng Y et al (2017a) Biochar application mode influences nitrogen leaching and NH3 volatilization losses in a rice paddy soil irrigated with N-rich wastewater. Environ Technol:1–7Google Scholar
  74. Sun T, Levin BDA, Guzman JJL, Enders A, Muller DA, Angenent LT, Lehmann J (2017b) Rapid electron transfer by the carbon matrix in natural pyrogenic carbon. Nat Commun 8:14873CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  75. Steinbeiss S, Gleixner G, Antonietti M (2009) Effect of biochar amendment on soil carbon balance and soil microbial activity. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1301–1310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Taghizadeh-Toosi A, Clough TJ, Sherlock RR, Condron LM (2012) A wood based low-temperature biochar captures NH3-N generated from ruminant urine-N, retaining its bioavailability. Plant Soil 353:73–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Tagoe SO, Horiuchi T, Matsui T (2008) Effects of carbonized and dried chicken manures on the growth, yield, and N content of soybean. Plant Soil 306:211–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tilman D, Balzer C, Hill J, Befort BL (2011) Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. P Natl Acad Sci USA 108: 20260, 20264Google Scholar
  79. Verhoeven E, Pereira E, Decock C, Suddick E, Angst T, Six J (2017) Toward a better assessment of biochar-nitrous oxide mitigation potential at the field scale. J Environ Qual 46:237–246CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Warnock DD, Lehmann J, Kuyper TW, Rillig MC (2007) Mycorrhizal responses to biochar in soil----concepts and mechanisms. Plant Soil 300:9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Woolcock PJ, Brown RC (2013) A review of cleaning technologies for biomass-derived syngas. Biomass Bioenergy 52:54–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Xie Z, Xu Y, Liu G, Liu Q, Zhu J, Tu C, Hu S (2013) Impact of biochar application on nitrogen nutrition of rice, greenhouse-gas emissions and soil organic carbon dynamics in two paddy soils of China. Plant Soil 370:527–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Yang F, Cao X, Gao B, Zhao L, Li F (2015) Short-term effects of rice straw biochar on sorption, emission, and transformation of soil NH4 +-N. Environ Sci Pollut R 22:9184–9192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Yao FX, Arbestain MC, Virgel S, Blanco F, Arostegui J, Maciá-Agulló JA, Macías F (2010) Simulated geochemical weathering of a mineral ash-rich biochar in a modified Soxhlet reactor. Chemosphere 80:724–732CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  85. Yao H, Gao Y, Nicol GW, Campbell CD, Prosser JI, Zhang L, Singh BK (2011) Links between ammonia oxidizer community structure, abundance, and nitrification potential in acidic soils. Appl Environ Microb 77:4618–4625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Zhang X (2017) Biogeochemistry: a plan for efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers. Nature 543:322–323CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. Zhao L, Cao X, Mašek O, Zimmerman A (2013a) Heterogeneity of biochar properties as a function of feedstock sources and production temperatures. J Hazard Mater 256:1–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  88. Zhao X, Yan X, Wang S, Xing G, Zhou Y (2013b) Effects of the addition of rice-straw-based biochar on leaching and retention of fertilizer N in highly fertilized cropland soils. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 59:771–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qi Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yanhui Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benjuan Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • James E. Amonette
    • 3
    • 4
  • Zhibin Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gang Liu
    • 1
  • Per Ambus
    • 5
    Email author
  • Zubin Xie
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Physical Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National LaboratoryWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural ResourcesWashington State UniversityWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource ManagementUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations