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Soil and foliar nutrient and nitrogen isotope composition (δ15N) at 5 years after poultry litter and green waste biochar amendment in a macadamia orchard
journal contributionposted on 20.06.2018, 00:00 by Shahla Hosseini BaiShahla Hosseini Bai, Chengyuan XuChengyuan Xu, Z Xu, TJ Blumfield, H Zhao, H Wallace, F Reverchon, L Van Zwieten
This study aimed to evaluate the improvement in soil fertility and plant nutrient use in a macadamia orchard following biochar application. The main objectives of this study were to assess the effects of poultry litter and green waste biochar applications on nitrogen (N) cycling using N isotope composition (δ15N) and nutrient availability in a soil-plant system at a macadamia orchard, 5 years following application. Biochar was applied at 10 t ha−1 dry weight but concentrated within a 3-m diameter zone when trees were planted in 2007. Soil and leaf samples were collected in 2012, and both soil and foliar N isotope composition (δ15N) and nutrient concentrations were assessed. Both soil and foliar δ15N increased significantly in the poultry litter biochar plots compared to the green waste biochar and control plots. A significant relationship was observed between soil and plant δ15N. There was no influence of either biochars on foliar total N concentrations or soil NH4+-N and NO3−-N, which suggested that biochar application did not pose any restriction for plant N uptake. Plant bioavailable phosphorus (P) was significantly higher in the poultry litter biochar treatment compared to the green waste biochar treatment and control. We hypothesised that the bioavailability of N and P content of poultry litter biochar may play an important role in increasing soil and plant δ15N and P concentrations. Biochar application affected soil-plant N cycling and there is potential to use soil and plant δ15N to investigate N cycling in a soil-biochar-tree crop system. The poultry litter biochar significantly increased soil fertility compared to the green waste biochar at 5 years following biochar application which makes the poultry litter a better feedstock to produce biochar compared to green waste for the tree crops.