Carbon mineralization in subtropical dryland soil amended with different biochar sources

  • Sehar Sultan
  • Khalid Saifullah KhanEmail author
  • Muhammad Akmal
  • Zammurad Iqbal Ahmed
  • Qaiser Hussain
  • Shahab Ahmad Khosa
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Implications of Biochar Application to Soil Environment under Arid Conditions


Subtropical soils of Pakistan under dryland agriculture are deficient in organic matter (< 0.5%) due to the high rate of organic matter decomposition in these soils. Biochar materials can improve carbon stock and storage in these soils due to their recalcitrant organic C and protective effect on native soil carbon mineralization. A laboratory incubation experiment was conducted to study the mineralization of biochars prepared from different organic wastes after soil application and to evaluate the effect of biochars on organic C fractions in soil. A subtropical sandy loam soil (Udic Haplustalf) was collected from the University Research Farm, brought to the laboratory, processed, and pre-incubated. Five hundred grams of the soil was added to incubation jars, separately, and the following treatments were applied: (i) Control (no biochar), (ii) biochar-1 (sugarcane bagasse biochar), (iii) biochar-2 (poultry litter biochar), and (iv) biochar-3 (wheat straw biochar). Each biochar was applied at two application rates, i.e., 0.5% and 1.0% w/w maintaining three replications; moisture contents were adjusted at 50% of soil WHC, and the jars were incubated at 25 °C for 90 days. Maximum cumulative CO2-C evolution (∑CO2-C) was recorded from the soil amended with biochar-2, followed by biochar-3 and biochar-1 at 1% application rate. In the start of incubation, dehydrogenase activity (DHA) and microbial biomass C were highest in Biochar-2 amended soil whereas, at later stages of incubation, biochar-3 amended soil had highest microbial activity as compared to other two biochars. Particulate organic C and total organic C remained highest in biochar-3 amended soil throughout the incubation as compared to other two biochars. It is concluded that biochar-2 had more labile organic C with a faster rate of mineralization, while the biochar-3 had more recalcitrant organic C and thus was more effective in C storage as compared to the other two biochars.


Biochar Carbon mineralization Microbial biomass C Dehydrogenase activity Dryland soil 



The first author gratefully acknowledges cooperation and support of the supervisory committee to complete the research work and write this manuscript. We thank the laboratory staff of the Institute of Soil Science, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi 46300, Pakistan, for their technical support during the analytical work.


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sehar Sultan
    • 1
  • Khalid Saifullah Khan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Muhammad Akmal
    • 1
  • Zammurad Iqbal Ahmed
    • 2
  • Qaiser Hussain
    • 1
  • Shahab Ahmad Khosa
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Soil SciencePMAS-Arid Agriculture UniversityRawalpindiPakistan
  2. 2.Department of AgronomyPMAS-Arid Agriculture UniversityRawalpindiPakistan

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