Biochar built soil carbon over a decade by stabilizing rhizodeposits

Zhe Han Weng, Lukas Van Zwieten, Bhupinder Pal Singh, Ehsan Tavakkoli, Stephen Joseph, Lynne M Macdonald, Terry J. Rose, Michael T Rose, Stephen W L Kimber, Stephen Morris, Daniel Cozzolino, Joyce R. Araujo, Braulio S. Archanjo, Annette Cowie

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80 Citations (Scopus)


Biochar can increase the stable C content of soil. However, studies on the longer-term role of plant-soil-biochar interactions and the consequent changes to native soil organic carbon (SOC) are lacking. Periodic 13 CO 2 pulse labelling of ryegrass was used to monitor belowground C allocation, SOC priming, and stabilization of root-derived C for a 15-month period - commencing 8.2 years after biochar (Eucalyptus saligna, 550 °C) was amended into a subtropical ferralsol. We found that field-aged biochar enhanced the belowground recovery of new root-derived C (13 C) by 20%, and facilitated negative rhizosphere priming (it slowed SOC mineralization by 5.5%, that is, 46 g CO 2 -C m â '2 yr â '1). Retention of root-derived 13 C in the stable organo-mineral fraction (<53 μm) was also increased (6%, P < 0.05). Through synchrotron-based spectroscopic analysis of bulk soil, field-aged biochar and microaggregates (<250 μm), we demonstrate that biochar accelerates the formation of microaggregates via organo-mineral interactions, resulting in the stabilization and accumulation of SOC in a rhodic ferralsol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-376
Number of pages6
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number5
Early online dateApr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2017

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    Han Weng, Z., Van Zwieten, L., Singh, B. P., Tavakkoli, E., Joseph, S., Macdonald, L. M., Rose, T. J., Rose, M. T., Kimber, S. W. L., Morris, S., Cozzolino, D., Araujo, J. R., Archanjo, B. S., & Cowie, A. (2017). Biochar built soil carbon over a decade by stabilizing rhizodeposits. Nature Climate Change, 7(5), 371-376.