Chelinho S., Domene X., Campana P., Andres P., Rombke J., Sousa J.P. (2014) Toxicity of phenmedipham and carbendazim to Enchytraeus crypticus and Eisenia andrei (Oligochaeta) in Mediterranean soils. Journal of Soils and Sediments. 14: 584-599.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s11368-013-0818-8
Purpose: The main objective of the present study was to evaluate the toxicity of two reference chemicals, Carbendazim and Phenmedipham, for the compostworm Eisenia andrei (effects of Carbendazim) and the potworm Enchytraeus crypticus (effects of Phenmedipham) in 12 Mediterranean soils with contrasting soil properties. The observed toxicity was also compared to that obtained for OECD standard soil, used as a control. Materials and methods: The soils were selected to be representative for the Mediterranean region and to cover a broad range of soil properties. The evaluated endpoints were avoidance behavior and reproduction. Soils were also assembled in two groups according to their pedological properties. Results and discussion: Toxicity benchmarks (AC50s) obtained for E. andrei avoidance behavior in carbendazim-contaminated soils were generally higher for sandy soils with low pH. The toxic effects on the reproduction of the compostworms were similar in the six tested soils, indicating a low influence of soil properties. The avoidance response of E. crypticus towards Phenmedipham was generally highly variable in all tested soils. Even though, a higher toxicity was observed for more acidic soils. The EC50s for reproduction of the latter species varied by a factor of 9 and Phenmedipham toxicity also tended to be increasing in soils with lower pH, except for the soils with extreme organic matter content (0.6 and 5.8%). Conclusions: A soil effect on chemical toxicity was clearly confirmed, highlighting the influence that test soils can have in site-specific ecological risk assessment. Despite some relationships between soil properties and toxicity were outlined, a clear and statistically significant prediction of chemical toxicity could not be established. The range of soil properties was probably narrow to give clearer and more consistent insights on their influence. For the four groups of tests, the toxicity observed for OECD soil was either similar, lower, or generally higher if compared with Mediterranean soils. Moreover, it did represent neither the organic matter content found in Mediterranean soils nor their textural classes. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
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.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.01.035
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.
Marks E.A.N., Alcaniz J.M., Domene X. (2014) Unintended effects of biochars on short-term plant growth in a calcareous soil. Plant and Soil. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s11104-014-2198-2
Background and aims Biochar has demonstrably improved crop yields in weathered and acidic soils, but studies in calcareous soils are particularly lacking, so biochar effects on plant growth was investigated under these conditions. Methods Six biochars were obtained from different feedstocks and production technologies. Chemical characterization of fresh biochars included total and extractable nutrients, labile carbon, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Extractable nutrients were also evaluated in biochar-soil mixtures with a basic (pH >8.2) test soil. Bioassays with lettuce and ryegrass were carried out to relate biochar chemical properties to effects on plant biomass. Results A sewage sludge slow pyrolysis char was stimulatory to plant growth, as was a slow pyrolysis pine wood char at an intermediate concentration, while gasification and fast-pyrolysis pine and poplar wood chars were strongly inhibitory, with reductions in biomass at realistic application rates of 5-19 t ha-1. Conclusions Statistical comparison of plant responses with biochar composition led to the assessment that plant responses were most correlated with volatile matter content and total P content, whose availability was likely regulated by pH and Ca content. Potential effects of phytotoxins were considered, but these were seen to be much less probable than effects due to nutrient availability. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
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.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2013.12.002
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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