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.
Enllaç
Doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.01.035

Resum:

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.
Enllaç
Doi: 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2013.12.002

Resum:

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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Sewage sludge processing determines its impact on soil microbial community structure and function

Mattana S., Petrovicova B., Landi L., Gelsomino A., Cortes P., Ortiz O., Renella G. (2014) Sewage sludge processing determines its impact on soil microbial community structure and function. Applied Soil Ecology. 75: 150-161.
Enllaç
Doi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2013.11.007

Resum:

Composting and thermal drying are amongst the most commonly used post-digestion processes for allowing sanitation and biological stabilization of sewage sludge from municipal treatment plants, and making it suitable as soil conditioner for use in agriculture. To assess the impact of sludge-derived materials on soil microbial properties, fresh (LAF), composted (LAC) and thermally dried (LAT) sludge fractions, each resulting from a different post-treatment process of a same aerobically digested sewage sludge, were added at 1% (w/w) application rate on two contrasting (a loam and a loamy sand) soils and incubated under laboratory conditions for 28 days. Soil respiration, microbial ATP content, hydrolytic activities and arginine ammonification rate were monitored throughout the incubation period. Results showed that soil biochemical variables, including the metabolic quotient (qCO2), were markedly stimulated after sludge application, and the magnitude of this stimulatory effect was dependent on sludge type (precisely LAT>LAF>LAC), but not on soil type. This effect was related to the content of stable organic matter, which was lower in LAT. Genetic fingerprinting by PCR-DGGE revealed that compositional shifts of soil bacterial and, at greater extent, actinobacterial communities were responsive to the amendment with a differing sludge fraction. The observed time-dependent changes in the DGGE profiles of amended soils reflected the microbial turnover dependent on the sludge nutrient input, whereas no indications of adverse effects of sludge-borne contaminants were noted. Our findings indicate that composting rather thermal drying can represent a more appropriate post-digestion process to make sewage sludge suitable for use as soil conditioner in agriculture. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

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