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Integration of biochar with nitrogen in acidic soil: A strategy to sequester carbon and improve the yield of stevia via altering soil properties and nutrient recycling

J Environ Manage. 2023 Sep 6;345:118872. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.118872. Online ahead of print.


The health of agroecosystems is subsiding unremittingly, and the over-use of chemical fertilizers is one of the key reasons. It is hypothesized that integrating biochar, a carbon (C)-rich product, would be an effective approach to reducing the uses of synthetic fertilizers and securing crop productivity through improving soil properties and nutrient cycling. The bamboo biochar at different quantities (4-12 Mg ha-1) and combinations with chemical fertilizers were tested in stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) farming in silty clay acidic soil. The integration of biochar at 8 Mg ha-1 with 100% nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) produced statistically (p ≤ 0.05) higher leaf area index, dry leaf yield, and steviol glycosides yield by about 18.0-33.0, 25.8-44.9, and 20.5-59.4%, respectively, compared with the 100% NPK via improving soil physicochemical properties. Soil bulk density was reduced by 5-8% with biochar at ≥ 8 Mg ha-1, indicating the soil porosity was increased by altering the soil macrostructure. The soil pH was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) augmented with the addition of biochar alone or in the combination of N because of the alkaline nature of the used biochar (pH = 9.65). Furthermore, integrating biochar at 8 Mg ha-1 with 100% NPK increased 22.7% soil organic C compared with the sole 100% NPK. The priming effect of applied N activates soil microorganisms to mineralize the stable C. Our results satisfy the hypothesis that adding bamboo biochar would be a novel strategy for sustaining productivity by altering soil physicochemical properties.

PMID:37683384 | DOI:10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.118872

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