Soil properties, greenhouse gas emissions and crop yield under compost, biochar and co-composted biochar in two tropical agronomic systems

Bass, Adrian M., Bird, Michael I., Kay, Gavin, and Muirhead, Brian (2016) Soil properties, greenhouse gas emissions and crop yield under compost, biochar and co-composted biochar in two tropical agronomic systems. Science of the Total Environment, 550. pp. 459-470.

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The addition of organic amendments to agricultural soils has the potential to increase crop yields, reduce dependence on inorganic fertilizers and improve soil condition and resilience. We evaluated the effect of biochar (B), compost (C) and co-composted biochar (COMBI) on the soil properties, crop yield and greenhouse gas emissions from a banana and a papaya plantation in tropical Australia in the first harvest cycle. Biochar, compost and COMBI organic amendments improved soil properties, including significant increases in soil water content-, CEC, K, Ca, NOT, NH,' and soil carbon content. However, increases in soil nutrient content and improvements in physical properties did not translate to improved fruit yield. Counter to our expectations, banana crop yield (weight per bunch) was reduced by 18%, 12% and 24% by B, C and COMBI additions respectively, and no significant effect was observed on the papaya crop yield. Soil efflux of CO2 was elevated by addition of C and COMBI amendments, likely due to an increase in labile carbon for microbial processing. Our data indicate a reduction in N2O flux in treatments containing biochar. The application of B, C and COMBI amendments had a generally positive effect on soil properties, but this did not translate into a crop productivity increase in this study. The benefits to soil nutrient content, soil carbon storage and N2O emission reduction need to be carefully weighed against potentially deleterious effects on crop yield, at least in the short-term.

Item ID: 43994
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-1026
Keywords: biochar, compost, tropical agriculture, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, crop yield
Funders: National Soil Carbon Program (NSCP)
Projects and Grants: NSCP Project 01203.023
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2016 07:37
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410101 Carbon sequestration science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9602 Atmosphere and Weather > 960201 Atmospheric Composition (incl. Greenhouse Gas Inventory) @ 50%
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