Biochar amendment effects on the activities of soil carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus hydrolytic enzymes: a meta-analysis

  • Leiyi Zhang
  • Yangzhou Xiang
  • Yiming Jing
  • Renduo ZhangEmail author
Research Article


The aim of this meta-analysis was to synthesize the effects of biochar amendment on soil enzyme activities (SEAs) related to carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) cycling. Based on 401 paired comparisons from 43 published studies, the SEAs and main influential factors were analyzed in response to biochar characteristics, soil properties, and experiment conditions. Results showed that biochar additions to soils overall increased the N- and P-cycling SEAs by 14 and 11%, respectively. The enhancement of the N- and P-cycling SEAs was mainly attributable to the microbial stimulation by biochar properties (i.e., nutrient content and porosity) and soil nutrients (e.g., soil organic C and total N). The enhancement was the most significant under the conditions with biochars produced at low temperatures and using feedstock materials with high nutrient content, and biochar applications in acidic or neutral soils, coarse or fine soils, and farmland soils. Biochar additions to soils overall reduced the C-cycling SEAs by 6.3%. The C-cycling SEAs were greatly suppressed under the conditions with low and very high biochar loads, biochars produced at high temperatures and with feedstock materials of herb and lignocellulose, and biochar applications in alkaline, fine, and forest soils. The results were mainly related to the adsorption and inhibition effects of biochars and soil properties (e.g., liming effect, high biochar porosity and aromatic C content) on fungi and the enzymes. Biochar feedstock, C/N and load, and soil total N were the main influential factors on the SEAs. The results from this study demonstrate that biochar amendment is beneficial to improving soil N and P cycling and C sequestration.


Biochars Soil enzymes C sequestration Nutrient cycling Influential factors 



This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41471181, 41503085, 31270544) and Forestry Science and Research Program of Guizhou Province (No. GZFSTC[2015] No. 6).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5604_MOESM1_ESM.docx (115 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 115 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Environmental Pollution Control and Remediation Technology, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guizhou Institute of Forest Inventory and PlanningGuiyangChina

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