Miscanthus biochar had limited effects on soil physical properties, microbial biomass, and grain yield in a four-year field experiment in Norway

Adam O’toole*, Christophe Moni, Simon Weldon, Anne Schols, Monique Carnol, Bernard Bosman, Daniel P. Rasse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The application of biochar to soils is a promising technique for increasing soil organic C and offsetting GHG emissions. However, large-scale adoption by farmers will likely require the proof of its utility to improve plant growth and soil quality. In this context, we conducted a four-year field experiment between October 2010 to October 2014 on a fertile silty clay loam Albeluvisol in Norway to assess the impact of biochar on soil physical properties, soil microbial biomass, and oat and barley yield. The following treatments were included: Control (soil), miscanthus biochar 8 t C ha−1 (BC8), miscanthus straw feedstock 8 t C ha−1 (MC8), and miscanthus biochar 25 t C ha−1 (BC25). Average volumetric water content at field capacity was significantly higher in BC25 when compared to the control due to changes in BD and total porosity. The biochar amendment had no effect on soil aggregate (2–6 mm) stability, pore size distribution, penetration resistance, soil microbial biomass C and N, and basal respiration. Biochar did not alter crop yields of oat and barley during the four growing seasons. In order to realize biochar’s climate mitigation potential, we suggest future research and development efforts should focus on improving the agronomic utility of biochar in engineered fertilizer and soil amendment products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Biochar
  • Miscanthus
  • Norway

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