Biochar incorporation as a soil amendment has been shown to enhance soil quality. However, there has been conflicting reports on its short term effects on C and N mineralization and microbial biomass. An incubation experiment was conducted to determine the effects of three different levels (0.5, 1 and 2%) of biochar on carbon mineralization, soil organic carbon, nitrogen mineralization, microbial biomass and total nitrogen from mollisols of two different organic matter (high organic matter soil and low organic matter soil) levels. The experiment consisted of four treatments (Soil, Soil + 0.5% biochar, Soil + 1% biochar and Soil + 2% biochar) and each was replicated three times. Overall, soil respiration rate was reduced by biochar additions over a 100-day period. Two percent biochar application rate showed greatest CO2-C reduction. Soil respiration in high organic matter soil was higher than low organic matter soil. NO3--N level was reduced by biochar addition in both high and low organic matter soils. Control (Soil) of the high organic matter soil showed the highest NO3--N (33.79 mg kg-1) and NH4+-N (7.23 mg kg-1) values at 70 days. The total nitrogen was increased by biochar additions; 1 and 2% application rates showed the highest total nitrogen values. Biochar additions also increased soil microbial biomass carbon and soil microbial biomass nitrogen of both soils.
Key words: Biochar, C mineralization, N mineralization, microbial biomass.
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