Gasifier biochar effects on nutrient availability, organic matter mineralization, and soil fauna activity in a multi-year Mediterranean trial

Marks E.A.N., Mattana S., Alcañiz J.M., Pérez-Herrero E., Domene X. (2016) Gasifier biochar effects on nutrient availability, organic matter mineralization, and soil fauna activity in a multi-year Mediterranean trial. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 215: 30-39.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2015.09.004

Resum:

Gasifier pine biochar is a carbon-rich material which may be useful as a soil amendment. In Europe and elsewhere there may be potential added value of char produced in industrial gasifiers, up to now considered as wastes. Pine gasification biochar was tested as a soil amendment in a multi-year Mediterranean barley crop field trial, applied at 12 and 50tha-1 while applying half the usual N rate at 50kgha-1, contrasted with a full 100kg ha-1 N fertilizer treatment without biochar. Over the 6-30 month period following the application, biochar treatments did not have any significant effect on soil microbial biomass, respiration, or metabolic coefficient. N mineralization as NO3 - was decreased by biochar at 6 and 12 months from experiment start and coincided with ammonium accumulation. Biochar increased overall soil concentrations of K+ and SO4 2-, attributed to a direct additive effect, agreeing with data from other sources. Biochar treatments (with half usual N fertilization) did not have any significant effects on barley crop parameters, and when biochar treatments were contrasted against full N fertilization with no biochar, the usual N dosage was clearly more beneficial to crop development. Finally, soil fauna activity was negatively impacted by gasifier biochar treatments in years two and three, indicating a risk to soil processes mediated by soil invertebrates. Though this gasifier biochar is expected to be highly stable and therefore of interest for carbon sequestration, its utilization therefore risks negative effects on some biologically-mediated soil processes at high application rates. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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Medium-term effects of corn biochar addition on soil biota activities and functions in a temperate soil cropped to corn

Domene X., Mattana S., Hanley K., Enders A., Lehmann J. (2014) Medium-term effects of corn biochar addition on soil biota activities and functions in a temperate soil cropped to corn. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 72: 152-162.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.01.035

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Biochar addition to soil has been generally associated with crop yield increases observed in some soils, and increased nutrient availability is one of the mechanisms proposed. Any impact of biochar on soil organisms can potentially translate to changes in nutrient availability and crop productivity, possibly explaining some of the beneficial and detrimental yield effects reported in literature. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to assess the medium-term impact of biochar addition on microbial and faunal activities in a temperate soil cropped to corn and the consequences for their main functions, litter decomposition and mineralization. Biochar was added to a corn field at rates of 0, 3, 12, 30tonsha-1 three years prior to this study, in comparison to an annual application of 1tha-1.Biochar application increased microbial abundance, which nearly doubled at the highest addition rate, while mesofauna activity, and litter decomposition facilitated by mesofauna were not increased significantly but were positively influenced by biochar addition when these responses were modeled, and in the last case directly and positively associated to the higher microbial abundance. In addition, in short-term laboratory experiments after the addition of litter, biochar presence increased NO2+NO3 mineralization, and decreased that of SO4 and Cl. However, those nutrient effects were not shown to be of concern at the field scale, where only some significant increases in SOC, pH, Cl and PO4 were observed.Therefore, no negative impacts in the soil biota activities and functions assessed were observed for the tested alkaline biochar after three years of the application, although this trend needs to be verified for other soil and biochar types. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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Biochars provoke diverse soil mesofauna reproductive responses inlaboratory bioassays

Marks E.A.N., Mattana S., Alcaniz J.M., Domene X. (2014) Biochars provoke diverse soil mesofauna reproductive responses inlaboratory bioassays. European Journal of Soil Biology. 60: 104-111.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2013.12.002

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Biochar application to soil has the potential to improve soil fertility under certain conditions. However, potential ecological effects remain largely unexplored and poorly understood, particularly those on soil biota. Six biochars were tested on two soil-dwelling invertebrates in short-term bioassays to determine effects on survival and reproduction. A pine wood gasification char increased collembolan adult mortality at high concentrations. Wood slow and fast pyrolysis biochars had a strong stimulatory effect on collembolan reproduction, but no strong effect on enchytraeids. A sewage sludge char was slightly stimulatory for both organisms, and a pine gasification char was inhibitory in both cases. Inhibitory effects were associated with biochars with high carbonate and Ca content and pH. In light of the high stimulation of collembolan reproduction, potential explanations such as soil microbial community shifts or gut symbiont use of biochar are suggested. © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS.

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Biochar application on a Mediterranean barley crop could reduce soil CH4, N2O and NH3 emissions

Ribas A, Llurba R, Ojeda G, Mattana S, Debrouk H, Sebastià T, Domene X (2012) Biochar application on a Mediterranean barley crop could reduce soil CH4, N2O and NH3 emissions (Póster) Workshop Biochar as option for sustainable resource management: An European Perspective - EU COST Action TD 1107. 24-25. Chania,

Influencia de las aplicaciones de biochar en cultivo de cebada en las emisiones de gases invernadero

Ribas A, Llurba R, Ojeda R, Ojeda G, Mattana S, Goriveau F, Sebastià T, Domene X (2012) Influencia de las aplicaciones de biochar en cultivo de cebada en las emisiones de gases invernadero (Póster) En: 1st Workshop on Mitigation of GHG Emissions from Spanish Agroforestry Sector (REMEDIA 2012), Bilbao, 8-9 marzo 2012.

Soil biochar amendments: type and dose effects

Ojeda G, Domene X, Mattana S, Sousa JP, Ortiz O, Andrés P, Alcañiz JM (2012) Soil biochar amendments: type and dose effects (Póster). EGU General Assembly. Viena, Austria, 22 -27 April 2012.

Bioassays prove the suitability of mining debris mixed with sewage sludge for land reclamation purposes.

Domene X, Mattana S, Ramírez W, Colón J, Jiménez P, Balanyà T, Alcañiz JM, Bonmatí M (2010) Bioassays prove the suitability of mining debris mixed with sewage sludge for land reclamation purposes. Journal of Soils Sediments 10: 30-44. doi 10.1007/s11368-009-0073-1.

Bioassays prove the suitability of mining debris mixed with sewage sludge for land reclamation purposes

Domene X., Mattana S., Ramírez W., Colón J., Jiménez P., Balanyà T., Alcañiz J.M., Bonmatí M. (2009) Bioassays prove the suitability of mining debris mixed with sewage sludge for land reclamation purposes. Journal of Soils and Sediments. 10: 30-44.
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Doi: 10.1007/s11368-009-0073-1

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Background, aim, and scope: Mining activities disturb land and reduce its capacity to support a complete functional ecosystem. Reclamation activities in this case are not easy due to the large amount of soil required. This is why mining debris are usually used as surrogate of soil, despite their unsuitable physicochemical properties. However, these properties can be improved with the amendment using an organic source, usually sewage sludge. Nevertheless, the use of sludge might lead to impacts on soil and water ecosystems because of its physicochemical properties and pollutant content. The aim of this study is to assess the suitability of the use of mining debris amended with sewage sludge as practice for the reclamation of land degraded by limestone-quarrying activities. Materials and methods: Two different types of mining debris from the same limestone quarry and six different types of composted or thermally dried sewage sludge were studied. A laboratory assessment was carried out by means of standardized bioassays of sludges, together with a field assessment carried out in lysimeters filled with debris-sludge mixtures. The field assessment was carried out using both the soil-waste mixtures, amended with dosages similar to those used for restoration purposes and their corresponding leachates. The variation of physicochemical properties and the outcomes of different bioassays (soil microorganisms biomass and respiration, enzymatic activities, plant emergence and growth, collembolan survival and reproduction, and the Microtox assay) were used as indicators of fertilizing or ecotoxicological effects. Results: The mining debris used in our study showed a poor capacity for biological recovery, as shown by the lower biological outcomes measured in control lysimeters compared to lysimeters amended with sludge. The addition of sludge improved debris just before the sludge application in terms of its physicochemical and biological properties (microorganism's biomass, respiration and enzymatic activities) which, in some cases, persisted after a year. Conversely, in some sludges, an inhibition in soil collembolans was observed just before the amendment, but any inhibitory effect disappeared after a year. Concerning the leachates obtained from field lysimeters after a week and a year, no inhibitory effects were detectable for aquatic bacteria. Discussion: The effects observed on some of the measured biological endpoints, both in laboratory and field assays, were mainly mediated by physicochemical parameters related to a low stability of organic matter, but in the opposite sense depending on the organism considered. Microbial parameters were enhanced when the organic matter added had a low stability (high content in labile organic matter) but, on the other hand, collembolan performance was negatively affected. The lack of toxicity of leachates indicates a low risk for groundwaters of this reclamation practice. Conclusions: The results of this study support the use of mining debris mixed with sludge for land reclamation of degraded land by quarrying. The addition of sludge allowed a quick plant cover re-establishment and provided a suitable habitat for soil biota because no long-term ecotoxicological risks were observed neither for soils nor groundwaters. The results also indicate that the environmental risk of sludges might be reduced using sludges with a high content in stable organic matter. Recommendations and perspectives: The use of mining debris mixed with sewage sludges for mining reclamation purposes is suitable since long-term ecotoxicological risks were not observed. In addition, the results support the suitability of bioassays for the prediction of the success or risk of specific land reclamation practices in order to avoid unsuccessful attempts. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

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Ecological risk assessment of organic waste amendments using the species sensitivity distribution from a soil organisms test battery

Domene X., Ramírez W., Mattana S., Alcañiz J.M., Andrés P. (2008) Ecological risk assessment of organic waste amendments using the species sensitivity distribution from a soil organisms test battery. Environmental Pollution. 155: 227-236.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.12.001

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Safe amendment rates (the predicted no-effect concentration or PNEC) of seven organic wastes were estimated from the species sensitivity distribution of a battery of soil biota tests and compared with different realistic amendment scenarios (different predicted environmental concentrations or PEC). None of the wastes was expected to exert noxious effects on soil biota if applied according either to the usual maximum amendment rates in Europe or phosphorus demands of crops (below 2 tonnes DM ha-1). However, some of the wastes might be problematic if applied according to nitrogen demands of crops (above 2 tonnes DM ha-1). Ammonium content and organic matter stability of the studied wastes are the most influential determinants of the maximum amendment rates derived in this study, but not pollutant burden. This finding indicates the need to stabilize wastes prior to their reuse in soils in order to avoid short-term impacts on soil communities. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Estimation of safe amendment rates with organic wastes using data from bioassays. In: Sierra et al (editors) Proceedings of the International Meeting on Soil and Wetland Ecotoxicology.

Domene X., Ramírez W, Mattana S, Ortiz O, Alcañiz J, Andrés P (2007) Estimation of safe amendment rates with organic wastes using data from bioassays. In: Sierra et al (editors) Proceedings of the International Meeting on Soil and Wetland Ecotoxicology. SOWETOX 2007, CREAF, UB, UdG and ICEA ISBN 978-84-475-3247-6