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Response of ammonia volatilization to biochar addition: A meta-analysis

Sha, Zhipeng, Li, Qianqian, Lv, Tiantian, Misselbrook, Tom, Liu, Xuejun
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.655 pp. 1387-1396
acid soils, ammonia, application rate, biochar, meta-analysis, organic fertilizers, regression analysis, soil amendments, soil pH, urea, volatilization
There has been increasing interest in and use of biochar as a soil amendment. However, the effects of biochar addition on ammonia volatilization (AV) appeared contradictory from the many reported studies and the main influencing factors remain unclear. Here, we conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of 41 published articles with 144 observations to reveal the effects of biochar addition on AV and used a boosted regression tree modelling approach to further interpret the contribution of biochar characteristics, soil properties and experimental conditions to this process. On average, biochar addition did not impact on AV, but this varied greatly under different soil, biochar and experimental conditions. The pH of soil and biochar were important factors impacting AV. Biochar application to acidic soil could stimulate AV, and addition of biochar with a high pH and at a low application rate also showed the same trend. In contrast, combining biochar with urea or organic fertilizer, or using wood-based or acidified biochar at appropriate rates had benefits in reducing AV. These findings have major implications for biochar management strategies in agricultural systems, where an important consideration is the mitigation of potentially detrimental environmental consequences.