|Title||Short-term effect of biochar and compost on soil fertility and water status of a Dystric Cambisol in NE Germany under field conditions|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Authors||Liu, Jie, Schulz Hardy, Brandl Susanne, Miehtke Herbert, Huwe Bernd, and Glaser Bruno|
|Journal||Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science|
Crop growth in sandy soils is usually limited by plant-available nutrients and water contents. This study was conducted to determine whether these limiting factors could be improved through applications of compost and biochar. For this purpose, a maize (Zea mays L.) field trial was established at 1 ha area of a Dystric Cambisol in Brandenburg, NE Germany. Five treatments (control, compost, and three biochar-compost mixtures with constant compost amount (32.5 Mg ha–1) and increasing biochar amount, ranging from 5–20 Mg ha–1) were compared. Analyses comprised total organic C (TOC), total N (TN), plant-available nutrients, and volumetric soil water content for 4 months under field conditions during the growing season 2009. In addition, soil water-retention characteristics were analyzed on undisturbed soil columns in the laboratory. Total organic-C content could be increased by a factor of 2.5 from 0.8 to 2% (p < 0.01) at the highest biochar-compost level compared with control while TN content only slightly increased. Plant-available Ca, K, P, and Na contents increased by a factor of 2.2, 2.5, 1.2, and 2.8, respectively. With compost addition, the soil pH value significantly increased by up to 0.6 (p < 0.05) and plant-available soil water retention increased by a factor of 2. Our results clearly demonstrated a synergistic positive effect of compost and biochar mixtures on soil organic-matter content, nutrients levels, and water-storage capacity of a sandy soil under field conditions.