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Jeffery, S.; Verheijen, F.G.A.; Kammann, C.; Abalos, D. (2016)
Languages: English
Types: Article
Methane (CH4) emissions have increased by more than 150% since 1750, with agriculture being the major source. Further increases are predicted as permafrost regions start thawing, and rice and ruminant animal production expand. Biochar is posited to increase crop productivity while mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon in soils and by influencing greenhouse gas fluxes. There is a growing understanding of biochar effects on carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide fluxes from soil. However, little is known regarding the effects on net methane exchange, with single studies often reporting contradictory results. Here we aim to reconcile the disparate effects of biochar application to soil in agricultural systems on CH4 fluxes into a single interpretive framework by quantitative meta-analysis.\ud \ud This study shows that biochar has the potential to mitigate CH4 emissions from soils, particularly from flooded (i.e. paddy) fields (Hedge's d = −0.87) and/or acidic soils (Hedge's d = −1.56) where periods of flooding are part of the management regime. Conversely, addition of biochar to soils that do not have periods of flooding (Hedge's d = 0.65), in particular when neutral or alkaline (Hedge's d = 1.17 and 0.44, respectively), may have the potential to decrease the CH4 sink strength of those soils. Global methane fluxes are net positive as rice cultivation is a much larger source of CH4 than the sink contribution of upland soils. Therefore, this meta-study reveals that biochar use may have the potential to reduce atmospheric CH4 emissions from agricultural flooded soils on a global scale.

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