Soil biota, carbon cycling and crop plant biomass responses to biochar in a temperate mesocosm experiment

Sarah A McCormack, Nick Ostle, Richard D Bardgett, DW Hopkins, M Gloria Pereira, Adam J Vanbergen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and aims
Biochar addition to soil is a carbon capture and storage option with potential to mitigate rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, yet the consequences for soil organisms and linked ecosystem processes are inconsistent or unknown. We tested biochar impact on soil biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and their interactions, in temperate agricultural soils.
Methods
We performed a 27-month factorial experiment to determine effects of biochar, soil texture, and crop species treatments on microbial biomass (PFLA), soil invertebrate density, crop biomass and ecosystem CO2 flux in plant-soil mesocosms.
Results
Overall soil microbial biomass, microarthropod abundance and crop biomass were unaffected by biochar, although there was an increase in fungal-bacterial ratio and a positive relationship between the 16:1ω5 fatty acid marker of AMF mass and collembolan density in the biochar-treated mesocosms. Ecosystem CO2 fluxes were unaffected by biochar, but soil carbon content of biochar-treated mesocosms was significantly lower, signifying a possible movement/loss of biochar or priming effect.
Conclusions
Compared to soil texture and crop type, biochar had minimal impact on soil biota, crop production and carbon cycling. Future research should examine subtler effects of biochar on biotic regulation of ecosystem production and if the apparent robustness to biochar weakens over greater time spans or in combination with other ecological perturbations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-356
Number of pages16
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume440
Issue number1-2
Early online date6 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Jul 2019

Fingerprint

biochar
soil biota
crop plant
mesocosm
carbon
biomass
crops
crop
ecosystem
soil texture
soil
experiment
ecosystems
ecosystem function
soil carbon
agricultural soil
crop production
microbial biomass
fatty acid
invertebrate

Keywords

  • Soil community
  • Charcoal
  • Soil carbon cycling
  • Crop production
  • Ecosystem CO2 flux
  • Biodiversity-function
  • Collembola
  • Mites
  • Nematode
  • AM fungi
  • PLFA

Cite this

McCormack, Sarah A ; Ostle, Nick ; Bardgett, Richard D ; Hopkins, DW ; Pereira, M Gloria ; Vanbergen, Adam J. / Soil biota, carbon cycling and crop plant biomass responses to biochar in a temperate mesocosm experiment. In: Plant and Soil. 2019 ; Vol. 440, No. 1-2. pp. 341-356.
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abstract = "Background and aimsBiochar addition to soil is a carbon capture and storage option with potential to mitigate rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, yet the consequences for soil organisms and linked ecosystem processes are inconsistent or unknown. We tested biochar impact on soil biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and their interactions, in temperate agricultural soils.MethodsWe performed a 27-month factorial experiment to determine effects of biochar, soil texture, and crop species treatments on microbial biomass (PFLA), soil invertebrate density, crop biomass and ecosystem CO2 flux in plant-soil mesocosms.ResultsOverall soil microbial biomass, microarthropod abundance and crop biomass were unaffected by biochar, although there was an increase in fungal-bacterial ratio and a positive relationship between the 16:1ω5 fatty acid marker of AMF mass and collembolan density in the biochar-treated mesocosms. Ecosystem CO2 fluxes were unaffected by biochar, but soil carbon content of biochar-treated mesocosms was significantly lower, signifying a possible movement/loss of biochar or priming effect.ConclusionsCompared to soil texture and crop type, biochar had minimal impact on soil biota, crop production and carbon cycling. Future research should examine subtler effects of biochar on biotic regulation of ecosystem production and if the apparent robustness to biochar weakens over greater time spans or in combination with other ecological perturbations.",
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Soil biota, carbon cycling and crop plant biomass responses to biochar in a temperate mesocosm experiment. / McCormack, Sarah A; Ostle, Nick; Bardgett, Richard D; Hopkins, DW; Pereira, M Gloria; Vanbergen, Adam J.

In: Plant and Soil, Vol. 440, No. 1-2, 07.2019, p. 341-356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Soil biota, carbon cycling and crop plant biomass responses to biochar in a temperate mesocosm experiment

AU - McCormack, Sarah A

AU - Ostle, Nick

AU - Bardgett, Richard D

AU - Hopkins, DW

AU - Pereira, M Gloria

AU - Vanbergen, Adam J

PY - 2019/7

Y1 - 2019/7

N2 - Background and aimsBiochar addition to soil is a carbon capture and storage option with potential to mitigate rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, yet the consequences for soil organisms and linked ecosystem processes are inconsistent or unknown. We tested biochar impact on soil biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and their interactions, in temperate agricultural soils.MethodsWe performed a 27-month factorial experiment to determine effects of biochar, soil texture, and crop species treatments on microbial biomass (PFLA), soil invertebrate density, crop biomass and ecosystem CO2 flux in plant-soil mesocosms.ResultsOverall soil microbial biomass, microarthropod abundance and crop biomass were unaffected by biochar, although there was an increase in fungal-bacterial ratio and a positive relationship between the 16:1ω5 fatty acid marker of AMF mass and collembolan density in the biochar-treated mesocosms. Ecosystem CO2 fluxes were unaffected by biochar, but soil carbon content of biochar-treated mesocosms was significantly lower, signifying a possible movement/loss of biochar or priming effect.ConclusionsCompared to soil texture and crop type, biochar had minimal impact on soil biota, crop production and carbon cycling. Future research should examine subtler effects of biochar on biotic regulation of ecosystem production and if the apparent robustness to biochar weakens over greater time spans or in combination with other ecological perturbations.

AB - Background and aimsBiochar addition to soil is a carbon capture and storage option with potential to mitigate rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, yet the consequences for soil organisms and linked ecosystem processes are inconsistent or unknown. We tested biochar impact on soil biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and their interactions, in temperate agricultural soils.MethodsWe performed a 27-month factorial experiment to determine effects of biochar, soil texture, and crop species treatments on microbial biomass (PFLA), soil invertebrate density, crop biomass and ecosystem CO2 flux in plant-soil mesocosms.ResultsOverall soil microbial biomass, microarthropod abundance and crop biomass were unaffected by biochar, although there was an increase in fungal-bacterial ratio and a positive relationship between the 16:1ω5 fatty acid marker of AMF mass and collembolan density in the biochar-treated mesocosms. Ecosystem CO2 fluxes were unaffected by biochar, but soil carbon content of biochar-treated mesocosms was significantly lower, signifying a possible movement/loss of biochar or priming effect.ConclusionsCompared to soil texture and crop type, biochar had minimal impact on soil biota, crop production and carbon cycling. Future research should examine subtler effects of biochar on biotic regulation of ecosystem production and if the apparent robustness to biochar weakens over greater time spans or in combination with other ecological perturbations.

KW - Soil community

KW - Charcoal

KW - Soil carbon cycling

KW - Crop production

KW - Ecosystem CO2 flux

KW - Biodiversity-function

KW - Collembola

KW - Mites

KW - Nematode

KW - AM fungi

KW - PLFA

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DO - 10.1007/s11104-019-04062-5

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SP - 341

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JO - Plant and Soil

JF - Plant and Soil

SN - 0032-079X

IS - 1-2

ER -