Biochar has been shown to improve soil quality and crop yields. Furthermore, thanks to its high carbon content (C) and stable chemical structure, biochar can sequester C in the soil for a long time, mitigating climate change. However, the variability in published biochar stability in the soil makes verifying this trait under different environmental and agricultural conditions necessary. Moreover, most of the published literature refers to short-term incubation experiments, which are considered to not adequately represent long-term dynamics under field conditions. This article reports the results of a field experiment carried out in a vineyard near Merano, northern Italy, where the stability of woodchips biochar in soil, its impact on the total soil C stocks as well as on the original soil organic C (priming effect) were studied over two years. Vineyard soil (Dystric Eutrochrept) was amended with biochar (25 and 50 t ha−1) alone or together with compost (45 t ha−1) and compared with unamended control soil. Two methods assessed the stability of biochar in soil: the isotopic mass balance approach and the quantification of Benzene PolyCarboxylic Acids (BPCAs), molecular markers of biochar. The amount of C in the soil organic matter (SOM-C) was determined in the amended plots by subtracting the amount of biochar-C from the total soil organic C stock, and the occurrence of priming effect was verified by comparing SOM-C values at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. Results did not show any significant biochar degradation for both application rates, but results were characterized by a high variation. The application of 50 t ha−1 of biochar significantly increased soil C stock while no effect of biochar on the degradation of SOM-C was observed. Results were confirmed in the case of biochar application together with compost. It can be concluded that the use of woodchips biochar as a soil amendment can increase soil C content in the medium term. However, further analyses are recommended to evaluate the impact of biochar on climate change mitigation in the long term.
Abstract. Land use and management practices affect the response of soil organic carbon (C) to global change. Process-based models of soil C are useful tools to simulate C dynamics, but it is important to bridge any disconnect that exists between the data used to inform the models and the processes that they depict. To minimise that disconnect, we developed a consistent modelling framework that integrates new spatially explicit soil measurements and data with the Rothamsted carbon model (Roth C) and simulates the response of soil organic C to future climate change across Australia. We compiled publicly available continental-scale datasets and pre-processed, standardised and configured them to the required spatial and temporal resolutions. We then calibrated Roth C and ran simulations to estimate the baseline soil organic C stocks and composition in the 0–0.3 m layer at 4043 sites in cropping, modified grazing, native grazing and natural environments across Australia. We used data on the C fractions, the particulate, mineral-associated and resistant organic C (POC, MAOC and ROC, respectively) to represent the three main C pools in the Roth C model's structure. The model explained 97 %–98 % of the variation in measured total organic C in soils under cropping and grazing and 65 % in soils under natural environments. We optimised the model at each site and experimented with different amounts of C inputs to simulate the potential for C accumulation under constant climate in a 100-year simulation. With an annual increase of 1 Mg C ha−1 in C inputs, the model simulated a potential soil C increase of 13.58 (interquartile range 12.19–15.80), 14.21 (12.38–16.03) and 15.57 (12.07–17.82) Mg C ha−1 under cropping, modified grazing and native grazing and 3.52 (3.15–4.09) Mg C ha−1 under natural environments. With projected future changes in climate (+1.5, 2 and 5.0 ∘C) over 100 years, the simulations showed that soils under natural environments lost the most C, between 3.1 and 4.5 Mg C ha−1, while soils under native grazing lost the least, between 0.4 and 0.7 Mg C ha−1. Soil under cropping lost between 1 and 2.7 Mg C ha−1, while those under modified grazing showed a slight increase with temperature increases of 1.5 ∘C, but with further increases of 2 and 5 ∘C the median loss of TOC was 0.28 and 3.4 Mg C ha−1, respectively. For the different land uses, the changes in the C fractions varied with changes in climate. An empirical assessment of the controls on the C change showed that climate, pH, total N, the C : N ratio and cropping were the most important controls on POC change. Clay content and climate were dominant controls on MAOC change. Consistent and explicit soil organic C simulations improve confidence in the model's estimations, facilitating the development of sustainable soil management under global change.
Plant-derived carbon (C) inputs via foliar litter, root litter and root exudates are key drivers of soil organic C stocks. However, the responses of these three input pathways to climate warming have rarely been studied in alpine shrublands.
By employing a three-year warming experiment (increased by1.3 ℃), we investigated the effects of warming on the relative C contributions from foliar litter, root litter and root exudates from Sibiraea angustata, a dominant shrub species in an alpine shrubland on the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
The soil organic C inputs from foliar litter, root litter and root exudates were 77.45, 90.58 and 26.94 g C m -2, respectively. Warming only slightly increased the soil organic C inputs from foliar litter and root litter by 8.04 and 11.13 g C m -2, but significantly increased the root exudate C input by 15.40 g C m -2. Warming significantly increased the relative C contributions of root exudates to total C inputs by 4.6% but slightly decreased those of foliar litter and root litter by 2.5% and 2.1%, respectively. Our results highlight that climate warming may stimulate plant-derived C inputs into soils mainly through root exudates rather than litter in alpine shrublands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
The turnover of microbial biomass plays an important part in providing a significant source of carbon (C) to soil organic C. However, whether the decomposition of microbial necromass (non-living microbial biomass) in the soil varies at the individual taxa level remains largely unknown. To fill up these gaps, we compared the necromass decomposition of bacterial and archaeal taxa by separating live microbial biomass with 18O-stable isotope probing from dead microbial biomass in soil. Our results showed that most of the microbial necromass at the operational taxonomic unit level (88.51%), which mainly belong to Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Gemmatimonadetes, and Proteobacteria, decomposed significantly after 30 days. In addition, there were great variations in necromass decomposition within each phylum, such as the decomposition of operational taxonomic units in Proteobacteria that ranged from 51% (Beijerinckia) to 92% (Nitrosospira). More importantly, the necromass decomposition was not related to the chemical composition of the cell wall but might positively correlate with the guanine–cytosine content of DNA and negatively correlated with genome size. This study provided a new insight that the decomposition of microbial necromass in soil was divergent at the individual taxonomic level and could not be fully explained by previously proposed mechanisms.
Climate warming and elevated ozone (eO3) are important climate change components that can affect plant growth and plant-microbe interactions. However, the resulting impact on soil carbon (C) dynamics, as well as the underlying mechanisms, remains unclear. Here, we show that warming, eO3, and their combination induce tradeoffs between roots and their symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and stimulate organic C decomposition in a nontilled soybean agroecosystem. While warming and eO3 reduced root biomass, tissue density, and AMF colonization, they increased specific root length and promoted decomposition of both native and newly added organic C. Also, they shifted AMF community composition in favor of the genus Paraglomus with high nutrient-absorbing hyphal surface over the genus Glomus prone to protection of soil organic C. Our findings provide deep insights into plant-microbial interactive responses to warming and eO3 and how these responses may modulate soil organic C dynamics under future climate change scenarios.