Mitigation of CO<inf>2</inf>, CH<inf>4</inf> and N<inf>2</inf>O from a fertigated horticultural growing medium amended with biochars and a compost
Lévesque, V., Rochette, P., Ziadi, N., Dorais, M., Antoun, H. (2018). Mitigation of CO2, CH4 and N2O from a fertigated horticultural growing medium amended with biochars and a compost. Applied Soil Ecology, [online] 126 129-139. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apsoil.2018.02.021
Plain language summary
There is an urgent need to improve the physical and chemical properties of peat-based growing media (PBGMs) commonly used in horticulture due to their negative environmental impacts, such as on the emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) and the nutrient losses by leaching. Several studies indicate that biochar, stable carbon (C)-rich material obtained by thermal combustion of biomass, as an amendment could be an effective solution to improve the physical and chemical properties in fertilized PBGM. The aim of our 58-d laboratory incubation study was to evaluate the effects of addition of different biochars and a compost to a fertilized PBGM on the nutrient (carbon and nitrogen) availability and the mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, three GHG. Five biochars were produced from three feedstocks at three pyrolysis temperatures: maple bark 400 °C (M400), 550 °C (M550) and 700 °C (M700); willow chips 400 °C (W400); and pine chips 700 °C (P700). Results indicated that the biochar addition increased carbon and decreased nitrogen availability in PBGMs and most of the tested biochars mitigated the emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O. Compost addition had no effect on the N2O emissions from all treatments and significantly increase CO2 emissions. This work indicates that biochars can be favorably used as an amendment to PBGMs for the development of a sustainable greenhouse production.
Biochar effect on greenhouse gases mitigation was mainly studied in amended mineral soils and little information is available for peat-based growing media (PBGMs) used in greenhouse production. We established a 58-d PBGM microcosm incubation study to investigate the effect of different biochars and a compost on the mineralization of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) and on mitigation of CO2, CH4 and N2O. Biochars and compost were added respectively at a rate of 15% and 4% (v/v) and a weekly mineral N fertilizer was applied. Five biochars were produced from three feedstocks at three pyrolysis temperatures: maple bark 400 °C (M400), 550 °C (M550) and 700 °C (M700); willow chips 400 °C (W400); and pine chips 700 °C (P700). Biochar addition increased C and decreased N availability in fertigated PBGMs. The highest microbial biomass C and N were obtained (p < 0.05) with M400 rich in volatile matter, and with compost treatments. Microbial enzymatic activity was lower (p < 0.05) in maples and W400 treated PBGMs than in P700 and control. Addition of compost and maple biochars produced at 400 °C and 550 °C lowered the microbial metabolic quotient. The highest mitigation efficiency of CO2 was obtained with M550 which released in 58-d, 50% less than other treatments. The total cumulative CH4 emission was also 21% lower in maple PBGMs than in control or P700. The total cumulative N2O emission was reduced by 66% by the addition of alkaline biochars (M400, M550, M700 and W400) in the PBGM without compost. This mitigation can be associated with the important ammonium adsorption by these biochars which can slow the nitrification process, or to a probable increase in the N2/N2O ratio. Compost addition had no effect on the N2O fluxes from all treatments. This work indicates that biochars can be favorably used as an amendment to PBGMs for the development of a sustainable greenhouse production.