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Denitrification kinetics in biomass- and biochar-amended soils of different landscape positions

Rajesh Chintala, Rachel K Owen, Thomas E Schumacher, Kurt A Spokas, Louis M McDonald, Sandeep Kumar, David E Clay, Douglas D Malo, Bruce Bleakley
Environmental science and pollution research international 2015 v.22 no.7 pp. 5152-5163
Panicum virgatum, Pinus ponderosa, Zea mays, activation energy, biochar, biomass, corn stover, denitrification, enthalpy, enzyme activity, gas emissions, landscapes, losses from soil, nitrous oxide, soil, soil amendments, wood
Knowledge of how biochar impacts soil denitrification kinetics as well as the mechanisms of interactions is essential in order to better predict the nitrous oxide (N₂O) mitigation capacity of biochar additions. This study had multiple experiments in which the effect of three biochar materials produced from corn stover (Zea mays L.), ponderosa pine wood residue (Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex Lawson and C. Lawson), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), and their corresponding biomass materials (corn stover, ponderosa pine wood residue, and switchgrass) on cumulative N₂O emissions and total denitrification in soils from two different landscape positions (crest and footslope) were studied under varying water-filled pore space (40, 70, and 90 % WFPS). Cumulative N₂O emissions were reduced by 30 to 70 % in both crest and footslope soils. The effect of biochars and biomass treatments on cumulative N₂O emissions and total denitrification were only observed at ≥40 % WFPS. The denitrification enzyme activity (DEA) kinetic parameters, Kₛ(half-saturation constant), and Vₘₐₓ(maximum DEA rate) were both significantly reduced by biochar treatments, with reductions of 70–80 % in footslope soil and 80–90 % in the crest soil. The activation energy (Eₐ) and enthalpy of activation of DEA (ΔH) were both increased with biochar application. The trends in DEA rate constants (Kₛand Vₘₐₓ) were correlated by the trends of thermodynamic parameters (activation energy Eₐand enthalpy of activation ΔH) for denitrifying enzyme activity (DEA). The rate constant Vₘₐₓ/Kₛevaluated the capacity of biochars to mitigate the denitrification process. Denitrifying enzyme kinetic parameters can be useful in evaluating the ability of biochars to mitigate N₂O gas losses from soil.