Can Biochar Protect Labile Organic Matter Against Mineralization in Soil?

Giovanna B. MELAS, Oriol ORTIZ, Josep M. ALACAÑIZ

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2017 Soil Science Society of China Biochar could help to stabilize soil organic (SOM) matter, thus sequestering carbon (C) into the soil. The aim of this work was to determine an easy method i) to estimate the effects of the addition of biochar and nutrients on the organic matter (SOM) mineralization in an artificial soil, proposed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), amended with glucose and ii) to measure the amount of labile organic matter (glucose) that can be sorbed and thus be partially protected in the same soil, amended or not amended with biochar. A factorial experiment was designed to check the effects of three single factors (biochar, nutrients, and glucose) and their interactions on whole SOM mineralization. Soil samples were inoculated with a microbial inoculum and preincubated to ensure that their biological activities were not limited by a small amount of microbial biomass, and then they were incubated in the dark at 21 °C for 619 d. Periodical measurements of C mineralized to carbon dioxide (CO2) were carried out throughout the 619-d incubation to allow the mineralization of both active and slow organic matter pools. The amount of sorbed glucose was calculated as the difference between the total and remaining amounts of glucose added in a soil extract. Two different models, the Freundlich and Langmuir models, were selected to assess the equilibrium isotherms of glucose sorption. The CO2-C release strongly depended on the presence of nutrients only when no biochar was added to the soil. The mineralization of organic matter in the soil amended with both biochar and glucose was equal to the sum of the mineralization of the two C sources separately. Furthermore, a significant amount of glucose can be sorbed on the biochar-amended soil, suggesting the involvement of physico-chemical mechanisms in labile organic matter protection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)822-831
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


    • C source
    • glucose sorption
    • microbial biomass
    • nutrients
    • soil respiration


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