Plant and Soil

, Volume 345, Issue 1–2, pp 47–58 | Cite as

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

  • Clemens Scheer
  • Peter R. Grace
  • David W. Rowlings
  • Stephen Kimber
  • Lukas Van Zwieten
Regular Article


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 



The authors would like to acknowledge Dr Peter Slavich and Ms Katrina Sinclair from Industry and Investment NSW. This work was undertaken on a field site established as a component an ACIAR funded project, ‘Improving the utilisation of water and soil resources for tree crop production in coastal areas of Vietnam and NSW’. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clemens Scheer
    • 1
  • Peter R. Grace
    • 1
  • David W. Rowlings
    • 1
  • Stephen Kimber
    • 2
  • Lukas Van Zwieten
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Sustainable ResourcesBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Wollongbar Primary Industries InstituteWollongbarAustralia

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