University of Oulu

Guo, L.; Yu, H.; Niu, W.; Kharbach, M. Biochar Promotes Nitrogen Transformation and Tomato Yield by Regulating Nitrogen-Related Microorganisms in Tomato Cultivation Soil. Agronomy 2021, 11, 381.

Biochar promotes nitrogen transformation and tomato yield by regulating nitrogen-related microorganisms in tomato cultivation soil

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Author: Guo, Lili1,2,3; Yu, Huiwen4; Niu, Wenquan1,3,5,6;
Organizations: 1College of Water Resources and Architectural Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Weihui Road 23, Yangling 712100, China
2Department of Plant and Environmental Science, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Højbakkegaard Alle 13, DK-2630 Taastrup, Denmark
3Key Laboratory of Agricultural Soil and Water Engineering in Arid and Semiarid Areas, Ministry of Education, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
4Department of Food and Science, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 26, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
5Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
6Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS &MWR, Yangling 712100, China
7Research Unit of Mathematical Sciences, University of Oulu, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-22


Nitrogen (N) transformation in soil directly determines the effectiveness of N for plant growth. Biochar has received evermore attention because of its significant ability to improve soil. However, the effects of biochar on N-related microorganisms (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) in tomato cultivation soil, N transformation, utilisation of water and N fertiliser, and tomato yield remain unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate the responses of N-related microorganisms to biochar and N fertilisation in soil, along with the implications of biochar for altering N transformation, N uptake by tomatoes, and utilisation of water and N fertiliser. A two-year greenhouse experiment containing six biochar levels under drip irrigation (0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 90 t ha⁻¹) and two N fertiliser application rates (190 and 250 kg ha⁻¹) was conducted in the northwest of China. The results showed that adding biochar significantly promoted urease activity, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), microbial biomass nitrogen (MBN), and the number of amoA-type nitrifiers in the soil. The MBC:N ratio and the number of nirS-type denitrifiers were significantly inhibited when the added amount of biochar was greater than or equal to 30 t ha⁻¹. Moreover, biochar can increase the water content in the soil and can reduce the N lost to leaching. The inorganic N (NO₃⁻ and NH₄⁺) in the soil could be better maintained in the rootzone and better absorbed by tomato plants when adding 30, 50, and 70 t ha⁻¹ of biochar. The amount of N fertiliser could be reduced by 24% without a significant loss of tomato yield when the amount of biochar added was over 30 t ha⁻¹. It was indicated that the yield of tomatoes and the net profits were quadratically related to the application rate of biochar. In the test area, 53 t ha⁻¹ of biochar with 190 kg ha⁻¹ of N and 44.6 t ha⁻¹ of biochar with 190 kg ha⁻¹ of N were calculated to be the best amounts from the perspectives of tomato yield and net profit, respectively. Thus, biochar promotes N transformation by regulating N-related microorganisms; hence, it increases the inorganic N in the roots of the plants, reduces N lost to leaching, and significantly promotes the N absorption of tomatoes. The results in this research are of great significance for the development of management strategies for tomato maintenance, environmental protection, and resource conservation.

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Series: Agronomy
ISSN: 2073-4395
ISSN-E: 2073-4395
ISSN-L: 2073-4395
Volume: 11
Issue: 2
Article number: 381
DOI: 10.3390/agronomy11020381
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 4111 Agronomy
1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
Funding: This research was funded by the National Key Research and Development Project (grant number: 2016YFC0400202) and the National Natural Science Foundation Program (grant number: 51679205).
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (