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

Bass, A. M. , Bird, M. I., Kay, G. and Muirhead, B. (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. (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.01.143) (PMID:26845182)

Bass, A. M. , Bird, M. I., Kay, G. and Muirhead, B. (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. (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.01.143) (PMID:26845182)

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Abstract

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 froma 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, NO3, NH4 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 CO2was 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 Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bass, Dr Adrian
Authors: Bass, A. M., Bird, M. I., Kay, G., and Muirhead, B.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Science of the Total Environment
Publisher:Elsevier Science B.V
ISSN:0048-9697
ISSN (Online):1879-1026

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