Nitrogen dynamics following field application of biochar in a temperate North American maize-based production system

Güereña, D. and Lehmann, J. and Hanley, K. and Enders, A. and Hyland, C. and Riha, S. (2012) Nitrogen dynamics following field application of biochar in a temperate North American maize-based production system. Plant and Soil. pp. 1-16.

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Background and aims Biochar additions to tropical soils have been shown to reduce N leaching and increase N use efficiency. No studies exist verifying reduced N leaching in field experiments on temperate agricultural soils or identifying the mechanism for N retention. Methods Biochar derived from maize stover was applied to a maize cropping system in central New York State at rates of 0, 1, 3, 12, and 30 t ha-1 in 2007. Secondary N fertilizer was added at 100, 90, 70, and 50 % of the recommended rate (108 kg N ha-1). Nitrogen fertilizer enriched with 15 N was applied in 2009 to the 0 and 12 t ha-1 of biochar at 100 and 50 % secondary N application. Results Maize yield and plant N uptake did not change with biochar additions (p > 0.05; n = 3). Less N (by 82 %; p < 0.05) was lost after biochar application through leaching only at 100 % N fertilization. The reason for an observed 140 % greater retention of applied 15 N in the topsoil may have been the incorporation of added 15 N into microbial biomass which increased approximately three-fold which warrants further research. The low leaching of applied fertilizer 15 N (0.42 % of applied N; p < 0.05) and comparatively high recovery of applied 15 N in the soil (39 %) after biochar additions after one cropping season may also indicate greater overall N retention through lower gaseous or erosion N losses with biochar. Conclusions Addition of biochar to fertile soil in a temperate climate did not improve crop growth or N use efficiency, but increased retention of fertilizer N in the topsoil

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Activated carbon – Biochar – Charcoal – Leaching – Maize – Nitrogen
Author Affiliation: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Subjects: Plant Production
Plant Protection
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Mr. SanatKumar Behera
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2012 15:10
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2012 15:12
Official URL:

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