Interactive effects of rice-residue biochar and N-fertilizer on soil functions and crop biomass in contrasting soils

Manpreet Singh Mavi, Gurwinder Singh, Bhupinder Pal Singh, Bharpoo Singh Sekhon, Om Prakash Choudhary, Sudhakar Sagi, Robert Berry

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There is limited understanding of the effects of rice residue biochar, particularly when applied in combination with nitrogen (N) fertilizer on soil fertility, soil C sequestration and crop productivity. A one-year pot experiment was established to examine effects of rice residue biochar (0, 10, 20 and 40 t ha-1) and N (0, 60, 90, 120 and 150 kg N ha-1) in soils with contrasting texture (loamy sand and sandy clay loam) in a wheat(maize cropping sequence. Biochar was only applied once before sowing wheat. Biochar alone or in combination with N did not significantly increase wheat biomass in both soils, whereas biomass of maize (next crop) was significantly increased from the residual effect of biochar, alone or in combination with N fertilizer. In both soils, electrical conductivity (EC) and pH, oxidisable organic carbon (OC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and available nutrients (NPK) increased with increasing rates of biochar addition. However, addition of N with biochar (cf. biochar alone) did not change pH and oxidisable OC values but increased EC significantly. After one year, the soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks increased beyond the input of biochar-C, that is, by 0.1-2.1 t ha-1 and 1.8-4.8 t ha-1 in loamy sand and sandy clay loam, respectively, across all treatments. It may be concluded that the potential benefits of rice residue biochar to soil functions and crop production may encourage growers to minimise open field burning of straw, which is a common practice in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-59
JournalJournal of soil science and plant nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License: The Authors


  • Biochar rates
  • wheat-maize cropping system
  • nitrogen levels
  • C stocks
  • available nutrients
  • soil texture


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