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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 822, 2022, 153576

Evaluation of long-term carbon sequestration of biochar in soil with biogeochemical field model

Jianxiang Yina, Ling Zhaoa,b, Xiaoyun Xub, Deping Lib, Hao Qiub, Xinde Caoa,b

China-UK Low Carbon College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 201306, China.

Abstract

Return of biomass-derived biochar (BC) into soil has been considered as one of the carbon sequestration (CS) methods. It is important to evaluate the long-term biochar CS potential by integrating the complex physical interferences and biochemical reactions in real soil. This study incorporated biochar into a biogeochemical field model and established a daily-resolution simulator to assess 5-, 50-, 500-year CS potential upon Soil-Biochar-Plant interaction. Through the scenario simulation of burying 7.5–75 t/ha BC-C in a 50 cm-depth rainfed cropland soil with corn planted, we found biochar could retain 483–557 kg C/t BC-C after 500 years' natural decomposition, although soil pedoturbation and plant erosion accelerated its mineralization. Moreover, biochar provided labile-C to compensate microbial decomposition and modified long-term soil climate, resulting in a decrease in soil organic carbon degradation of 44–265 kg C/t BC-C. Furthermore, biochar promoted plant photosynthetic performance by offering exogenous nutrients, equivalent to capturing 66–1039 kg C/t BC-C over 50 years. But biochar limited endogenous nutrient release and inhibited plant growth after exogenous nutrients exhausted, so total CS decreases yearly after reaching an upper limit (1030–1722 kg C/t BC-C). A total of 651–725 kg C/t BC-C could be sequestered after 500 years. And biochar is more potential in infertile and arid soils. Overall, this study indicates the necessity of taking the biogeochemical reactions into consideration to assess biochar long-term CS, and it further demonstrates biochar soil implementation is a prospective carbon-negative strategy.

Keywords: Biochar soil carbon sequestration, Biogeochemical field model, Soil climate, Soil organic carbon, Plant roots.

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