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Activated carbon amendments to soils alters nitrification rates in Scots pine forests

TitleActivated carbon amendments to soils alters nitrification rates in Scots pine forests
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsBerglund, I., DeLuca T. H., and Zackrisson O.
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry

The influence of charcoal on biotic processes in soils remains poorly
    understood. Charcoal is a natural product of wildfires that burned
    on a historic return interval of not, vert, similar100 years in Scots
    pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests of northern Sweden. Fire suppression
    and changes in forest stand management have resulted in a lack of
    charcoal production in these ecosystems. It is thought that charcoal
    may alter N mineralization and nitrification rates, however, previous
    studies have not been conclusive. Replicated field studies were conducted
    at three late-succession field sites in northern Sweden and supporting
    laboratory incubations were conducted using soil humus collected
    from these sites. We used activated carbon (AC), as a surrogate for
    natural-occurring fire-produced charcoal. Two rates of AC (0 and
    2000 kg ha?1), and glycine (0 and 100 kg N as glycine ha?1) were
    applied in factorial combination to field microplots in a randomized
    complete block pattern. Net nitrification, N mineralization, and
    free phenol concentrations were measured using ionic and non-ionic
    resin capsules, respectively. These same treatments and also two
    rates of birch leaf litter (0 and 1000 kg ha?1) were applied in a
    laboratory incubation and soils from this incubation were extracted
    with KCl and analyzed for NH4+ and NO3?. Nitrification rates increased
    with AC amendments in laboratory incubations, but this was not supported
    by field studies. Ammonification rates, as measured by NH4+ accumulation
    on ionic resins, were increased considerably by glycine applications,
    but some NH4+ was apparently lost to surface sorption to the AC.
    Phenolic accumulation on non-ionic resin capsules was significantly
    reduced by AC amendments. We conclude that charcoal exhibits important
    characteristics that affect regulating steps in the transformation
    and cycling of N.