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Short-term dynamics of carbon and nitrogen using compost, compost-biochar mixture and organo-mineral biochar

Abstract

This study aims to examine the effects of different organic treatments including compost (generated from cattle hide waste and plant material), compost mixed with biochar (compost + biochar) and a new formulation of organo-mineral biochar (produced by mixing biochar with clay, minerals and chicken manure) on carbon (C) nitrogen (N) cycling. We used compost at the rate of 20 t ha−1, compost 20 t ha−1 mixed with 10 t ha−1 biochar (compost + biochar) and organo-mineral biochar which also contained 10 t ha−1 biochar. Control samples received neither of the treatments. Compost and compost + biochar increased NH4 + -N concentrations for a short time, mainly due to the release of their NH4 + -N content. Compost + biochar did not alter N cycling of the compost significantly but did significantly increase CO2 emission compared to control. Compost significantly increased N2O emission compared to control. Compost + biochar did not significantly change N supply and also did not decrease CO2 and N2O emissions compared to compost, suggesting probably higher rates of biochar may be required to be added to the compost to significantly affect compost-induced C and N alteration. The organo-mineral biochar had no effect on N cycling and did not stimulate CO2 and N2O emission compared to the control. However, organo-mineral biochar maintained significantly higher dissolved organic carbon (DOC) than compost and compost + biochar from after day 14 to the end of the incubation. Biochar used in organo-mineral biochar had increased organic C adsorption which may become available eventually. However, increased DOC in organo-mineral biochar probably originated from both biochar and chicken manure which was not differentiated in this experiment. Hence, in our experiment, compost, compost + biochar and organo-mineral biochar affected C and N cycling differently mainly due to their different content.

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Acknowledgments

ID was supported by Honours scholarship at University of the Sunshine Coast to undertake this study. This study was supported with Seed Funding from University of the Sunshine Coast and Griffith University under the Collaborative Research Network – University of the Sunshine Coast Research Futures project. The authors would like to acknowledge two anonymous reviewers who provided constructive comments leading to improvements to this manuscript. The authors would like to acknowledge Mr J. Biala from ‘The Organic Force’ and GELITA Australia for providing the compost. The authors would like to acknowledge M. Farrar for providing access to soil, G. Lambert, R. Diocares, C. Polson, M. Esfandbod, Z. Lan for assistance with laboratory analysis. Acknowledgement of support from Dr Karen Privat the Electron Microscope Unit of University of NSW and Dr Bin Gong of Mark Wainright Analytical centre UNSW for XPS.

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Correspondence to Shahla Hosseini Bai.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Darby, I., Xu, CY., Wallace, H.M. et al. Short-term dynamics of carbon and nitrogen using compost, compost-biochar mixture and organo-mineral biochar. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 11267–11278 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-6336-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-6336-7

Keywords

  • Net nitrogen mineralisation and nitrification
  • Gross mineralisation
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • 15N dilution technique
  • Soil nutrients
  • XPS
  • FTIR