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Biochar-induced concomitant decrease in ammonia volatilization and increase in nitrogen use efficiency by wheat

Mandal, Sanchita, Thangarajan, Ramya, Bolan, Nanthi S., Sarkar, Binoy, Khan, Naser, Ok, Yong Sik, Naidu, Ravi
Chemosphere 2016 v.142 pp. 120-127
Triticum aestivum, adsorption, ammonia, biochar, crops, diammonium phosphate, hulls, ions, macadamia nuts, nitrification, nitrogen, nutrient use efficiency, pH, poultry manure, soil, urea, volatilization, wheat
Ammonia (NH3) volatilization is a major nitrogen (N) loss from the soil, especially under tropical conditions, NH3 volatilization results in low N use efficiency by crops. Incubation experiments were conducted using five soils (pH 5.5–9.0), three N sources such as, urea, di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), and poultry manure (PM) and two biochars such as, poultry litter biochar (PL-BC) and macadamia nut shell biochar (MS-BC). Ammonia volatilization was higher at soil with higher pH (pH exceeding 8) due to the increased hydroxyl ions. Among the N sources, urea recorded the highest NH3 volatilization (151.6mgkg⁻¹soil) followed by PM (124.2mgkg⁻¹soil) and DAP (99mgkg⁻¹soil). Ammonia volatilization was reduced by approximately 70% with PL-BC and MS-BC. The decreased NH3 volatilization with biochars is attributed to multiple mechanisms such as NH3 adsorption/immobilization, and nitrification. Moreover, biochar increased wheat dry weight and N uptake as high as by 24.24% and 76.11%, respectively. This study unravels the immense potential of biochar in decreasing N volatilization from soils and simultaneously improving use efficiency by wheat.