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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 4, p. 1224-1235
    Received: Apr 13, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): bp.Singh@sf.nsw.gov.au
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Influence of Biochars on Nitrous Oxide Emission and Nitrogen Leaching from Two Contrasting Soils

  1. Bhupinder Pal Singh *a,
  2. Blake J. Hattonb,
  3. Balwant Singhb,
  4. Annette L. Cowiea and
  5. Amrit Kathuriaa
  1. a Forest Science Centre, Industry and Investment NSW, P.O. Box 100, Beecroft, NSW 2119, Australia
    b Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, The Univ. of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia


The influence of biochar on nitrogen (N) transformation processes in soil is not fully understood. This study assessed the influence of four biochars (wood and poultry manure biochars synthesized at 400°C, nonactivated, and at 550°C, activated, abbreviated as: W400, PM400, W550, PM550, respectively) on nitrous oxide (N2O) emission and N leaching from an Alfisol and a Vertisol. Repacked soil columns were subjected to three wetting–drying (W–D) cycles to achieve a range of water-filled pore space (WFPS) over a 5-mo period. During the first two W–D cycles, W400 and W550 had inconsistent effects on N2O emissions and the soils amended with PM400 produced higher N2O emissions relative to the control. The initially greater N2O emission from the PM400 soils was ascribed to its higher labile intrinsic N content than the other biochars. During the third W–D cycle, all biochar treatments consistently decreased N2O emissions, cumulatively by 14 to 73% from the Alfisol and by 23 to 52% from the Vertisol, relative to their controls. In the first leaching event, higher nitrate leaching occurred from the PM400-amended soils compared with the other treatments. In the second event, the leaching of ammonium was reduced by 55 to 93% from the W550- and PM550-Alfisol and Vertisol, and by 87 to 94% from the W400- and PM400-Vertisol only (cf. control). We propose that the increased effectiveness of biochars in reducing N2O emissions and ammonium leaching over time was due to increased sorption capacity of biochars through oxidative reactions on the biochar surfaces with ageing.

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