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Biochar incorporation increases winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production with significantly improving soil enzyme activities at jointing stage

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  • Yue Li
  • Hao Feng, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Ji Chen
  • Junsheng Lu, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University
  • ,
  • Wenjie Wu, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, Aarhus University
  • ,
  • Xuezhi Liu, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University
  • ,
  • Cheng Li, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University
  • ,
  • Qin'ge Dong, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, CAS - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation
  • ,
  • Kadambot H.M. Siddique, University of Western Australia

The responses of yield production and soil nutrients availability to agricultural organic inputs are crucial for cropland management. However, the simultaneous impacts of straw-derived biochar and straw addition on yield production and soil properties (e.g., soil enzyme activities at winter wheat growing stages) as well as their potential relationships remain poorly evaluated in semi-arid areas. Here, a field experiment based on the long-term study (i.e., commenced in 2011) was conducted in the semi-arid Chinese Loess Plateau to explore the responses of soil water storage (SWS), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield and a range of soil biochemical properties to straw-derived biochar and straw addition in 2018–2019 and 2019–2020. The four treatments were: 1) no straw and no biochar (Control), 2) conventional straw mulching (SM), 3) straw incorporated into the soil (SI), and 4) straw-derived biochar incorporated into the soil (BI). We found that the BI treatment on average increased SWS in 0–160 cm soil depth by 13%, 17%, and 21% across entire growing seasons, respectively, when compared to the SM, SI and Control treatments. Enhancements in grain yield and aboveground biomass were related to the BI treatment-induced increases in soil carbon and nitrogen content. The BI treatment had higher soil enzyme activities at jointing stage than at grain filling and maturity stages during winter wheat growing seasons. The mixed-effects models showed there were significant effects of growth stage and soil depth on soil microbial biomass and soil dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, even when analyzed by each growing season. Moreover, no significant relationships were found between SWS and soil enzyme activities (invertase, urease, catalase, and alkaline phosphatase). Therefore, straw-derived biochar incorporation could be one of the appropriate practices for increasing crop yield and sustaining soil fertility in the Chinese Loess Plateau and other areas with similar climates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105979
Book seriesCatena
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

    Research areas

  • Loess Plateau, Soil enzymatic activities, Soil properties, Straw-derived biochar and straw, Winter wheat yield

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