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The Impact of Woody Biochar on Microbial Processes in Conventionally and Organically Managed Arable soils

Cordovil, Cláudia M d S, Pinto, Renata, Silva, Beatriz, Sas-Paszt, Lidia, Sakrabani, Ruben, Skiba, Ute M
Communications in soil science and plant analysis 2019 v.50 no.12 pp. 1387-1402
ammonia, animal manures, arable soils, biochar, cell respiration, composts, energy expenditure, environmental impact, enzyme activity, microbial activity, nitrates, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrient availability, soil enzymes, soil minerals, soil quality, soil respiration, temperature, urea, volatilization
Although environmental impacts of biochar are well characterized, impacts on soil quality, nutrient availability and crop productivity, still remain a challenge due to the diverse response of different soil types to different types of biochar, namely those obtained at low temperature. The impact of an alkaline woody biochar (two doses 5% and 10%) obtained at 280°C, on soil enzyme activity, soil microbial respiration rate, mineral nitrogen (N) availability and ammonia volatilization was studied in one conventionally and one organically managed soils, with and without the addition of urea or composted farmyard manure. Biochar additions had different effects on soil enzyme activity in both soils, suggesting lower decomposing microbial activity processes promoted by biochar. Both soils showed a similar decreasing trend regarding soil respiration rates for all treatments, and significant relationships were observed between the treatments with different rates of applied biochar, but not constant for the entire incubation period. Urea application increased soil mineral N concentrations, especially nitrate concentrations when biochar was applied as well. Biochar decreased ammonia volatilization from conventionally managed soil fertilized with urea, but did not have a significant effect when compost was added to the organically managed soil. Biochar altered microbial behavior in soil, and was affected by previous soil management. So, the impact of biochar produced at low temperatures on soil biological processes is similar to those obtained at high temperature, thus proving that there is no need to increase the energy expenditure to produce biochar, to obtain a good product.