Chemolithotrophic processes in the bacterial communities on the surface of mineral-enriched biochars
Biochar addition to soil has been widely accepted as an option to enhance soil carbon sequestration by introducing recalcitrant organic matter. However, it remains unclear whether biochar will negate the net carbon accumulation by increasing carbon loss through CO2 efflux from soil (soil respiration). The objectives of this study were to address: 1) whether biochar addition increases soil respiration; and whether biochar application rate and biochar type (feedstock and pyrolyzing system) affect soil respiration. Two series of field experiments were carried out at 8 sites representing the main crop production areas in China. In experiment 1, a single type of wheat straw biochar was amended at rates of 0, 20 and 40 tha(-1) in four rice paddies and three dry croplands. In experiment 2, four types of biochar (varying in feedstock and pyrolyzing system) were amended at rates of 0 and 20 tha(-1) in a rice paddy under rice-wheat rotation. Results showed that biochar addition had no effect on CO2 efflux from soils consistently across sites, although it increased topsoil organic carbon stock by 38% on average. Meanwhile, CO2 efflux from soils amended with 40 t of biochar did not significantly higher than soils amended with 20 t of biochar. While the biochars used in Experiment 2 had different carbon pools and physico-chemical properties, they had no effect on soil CO2 efflux. The soil CO2 efflux following biochar addition could be hardly explained by the changes in soil physic-chemical properties and in soil microbial biomass. Thus, we argue that biochar will not negate the net carbon accumulation by increasing carbon loss through CO2 efflux in agricultural soils.