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Biochar co-application mitigated the stimulation of organic amendments on soil respiration by decreasing microbial activities in an infertile soil

Abstract

A field experiment was carried out to study the responses of soil respiration, soil C and N, composition of main microbial groups, enzyme activity, and microbial C source utilization to two organic amendments (i.e., straw and manure) added alone or combined with biochar for 9 months in an infertile soil. In comparison with the non-amended control, soil CO2 emission rates were significantly increased following straw and manure addition, but they were decreased by 19% and 36% on average when co-applied with biochar. Organic amendments significantly increased the size of labile C pool by 21%, total phospholipid-fatty acid (PLFA) concentrations by 32%, activities of α-glucosidase by 51%, β-glucosidase by 115%, β-D-cellobiosidase by 105%, β-xylosidase by 43%, phenol oxidase by 59%, and peroxidase by 91% on average relative to the non-amended control, whereas biochar co-application with organic amendments had no effect on soil PLFA concentrations but significantly decreased the enzyme activities by 38% and the sizes of labile C and N pools by 16% on average. The results of the substrate-induced respiration confirmed a lower capacity of biochar-treated soils to use the C sources of carbohydrates and carboxylic acids. Structural equation modeling indicated that the response of soil CO2 emission rates to organic amendment and biochar was directly linked to their effects on microbial activities. Therefore, our study demonstrated that biochar co-applied with straw or manure mitigated soil C loss by decreasing soil microbial activities.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Paolo Nannipieri, the Editor-in-Chief, and the anonymous reviewers for their very valuable comments in improving both the language and scientific quality of the manuscript.

Funding

This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant numbers 41977083, the National College Students’ Innovation Training Program (No. 201910341020), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Provincial Universities of Zhejiang (2020YQ004), and the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China under grant number LGF18C160001.

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Wu, Q., Lian, R., Bai, M. et al. Biochar co-application mitigated the stimulation of organic amendments on soil respiration by decreasing microbial activities in an infertile soil. Biol Fertil Soils 57, 793–807 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-021-01574-0

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Keywords

  • Straw
  • Manure
  • Soil CO2 emission
  • Enzyme activity
  • Main microbial groups