NZBRC: new publication

Investigating the Influence of Biochar Particle Size and Depth of Placement on Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Emissions from Simulated Urine Patches

Ainul Faizah Mahmud 1,2,*, Marta Camps-Arbestain 1 and Mike Hedley 1
1 New Zealand Biochar Research Centre, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North 4442,
New Zealand; (M.C.-A.); (M.H.)
2 Department of Land Management, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
* Correspondence: or
Received: 30 September 2018; Accepted: 1 November 2018; Published: 7 November 2018 


The use of biochar reduces nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from soils under specific conditions yet the mechanisms through which interactions occur are not fully understood. The objectives of this glasshouse study were to investigate the effect of (i) biochar particle size, and (ii) the impact of soil inversion—through simulated mouldboard ploughing—on N2O emissions from soils to which cattle urine was applied. Pine biochar (550 C) with two different particle sizes (<2 mm and >4 mm) was mixed either into the top soil layer at the original 0–10 cm depth in the soil column or at 10–20 cm depth by inverting the top soil to simulate ploughing. Nitrous oxide emissions were monitored for every two to three days, up to seven weeks during the summer trial and measurements were repeated during the autumn trial. We found that the use of large particle size biochar in the inverted soil had significant impact on increasing the cumulative N2O emissions in autumn trial, possibly through changes in the water hydraulic conductivity of the soil column and increased water retention at the boundary between soil layers. This study thus highlights the importance of the role of biochar particle size and the method of biochar placement on soil physical properties and the implications of these on N2O emissions.

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