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Silicon fertilizer and biochar effects on plant and soil PhytOC concentration and soil PhytOC stability and fractionation in subtropical bamboo plantations

Huang, Chengpeng, Wang, Li, Gong, Xiaoqiang, Huang, Zhangting, Zhou, Miaorong, Li, Jiong, Wu, Jiasen, Chang, Scott X., Jiang, Peikun
The Science of the total environment 2020 v.715 pp. 136846
Phyllostachys edulis, bamboos, biochar, fertilizer rates, fertilizers, forests, fractionation, pH, phytoliths, plantations, silicon, soil organic carbon, soil organic nitrogen, soil properties, solubility, topsoil, China
The use of exogenous silicon (Si) amendments, such as Si fertilizers and biochar, can effectively increase crop Si uptake and the formation of phytoliths, which are siliceous substances that are abundant in numerous plant species. Phytolith-occluded carbon (C) (PhytOC) accumulation in soil plays an important role in long-term soil organic C (SOC) storage. Nevertheless, the effects of both Si fertilizer and biochar application on PhytOC sequestration in forest plant-soil systems have not been studied. We investigated the impact of Si fertilizer and biochar applications on 1) the PhytOC pool size, the solubility of plant and soil phytoliths, and soil PhytOC in soil physical fractions (light (LFOM) and heavy fractions of organic matter (HFOM)) in Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens) forests; and 2) the relationships among plant and soil PhytOC concentrations and soil properties. We used a factorial design with three Si fertilizer application rates: 0 (S0), 225 (S1) and 450 (S2) kg Si ha⁻¹, and two biochar application rates: 0 (B0) and 10 (B1) t ha⁻¹. The concentrations of PhytOC in the bamboo plants and topsoil (0–10 cm) increased with increasing Si fertilizer addition, regardless of biochar application. Biochar addition increased the soil PhytOC pool size, as well as the LFOM- and HFOM-PhytOC fractions, regardless of Si fertilizer application. The Si fertilizer application increased or had no effect on soil phytolith solubility with or without biochar application, respectively. Soil PhytOC was correlated with the concentration of soil organic nitrogen (R² = 0.32), SOC (R² = 0.51), pH (R² = 0.28), and available Si (R² = 0.23). Furthermore, Si fertilizer application increased plant and soil PhytOC by increasing soil available Si. Moreover, biochar application increased soil PhytOC concentration in LFOM-PhytOC and the unstable fraction of PhytOC. We conclude that Si fertilizer and biochar application promoted PhytOC sequestration in the plant-soil system and changed its distribution in physical fractions in the Moso bamboo plantation in subtropical China.