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I would love to see it as well. I wonder if they measured the above-ground biomass increase relative to a nearby control area? In other words, how do they know that the loss of carbon in the soil is not offset by the gain in carbon in the forest's flora? Did they measure actual CO2 levels on the surface? So many questions...
I have a copy if you send me your email address.
This is part of my post to the TP list on the article.
We know soil bacteria and fungi produce about 90% of the world's natural CO2 and that charcoal hastens the decomposition of SOM
Hungry Microbes Share Out The Carbon In The Roots Of Plants
Carbon 'released, not stored' by soil
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
We have come along way, in 10 years, from this:-
CSIRO MEDIA RELEASE 97/58
3 April 1997
LEGACY OF A THOUSAND BUSHFIRES
Australia's soil is even poorer than was thought, says CSIRO Land and Water researcher Jan Skjemstad. Much of our small supply of carbon - an essential element in fertile soil - is in the form of useless charcoal, resulting from tens of thousands of years of bushfires.
"The charcoal is mostly carbon, but it is in a form which can't be used by plants or soil organisms," said Mr Skjemstad.
Wild fire a major driver of C in your forests ? With fires every 350-100,000 years ago? Australia should be so lucky! We would rarely go more than a dozen years before burning forests (especially prior to European settlement).
What is not addressed in your paper is the C02 holding proprieties of things like Soil Algae, bacteria and AMF like glomalin which in association with plant roots promotes growth and locks C into the soil. In itself glomalin is 30-40% Carbon. It is sad to hold up to a third of the word's carbon.
Glomalin hiding place for a third of the world's stored soil carbon | Agricultural Research | Find Articles at BNET.com
I gather your experimental bags were not in intimate contact with soil root and would thus produce little glomalin, So CO2 cycling from SOM (your 'humus') could be much faster.
Trees and Toadstools - Introduction
Also bacteria are said to contain about 50% dry weight carbon. Lehmann and others have suggested charcoal provides protective "housing" for bacteria. Less predation thus leads to higher bacterial growth in the soil.
You might also be interested in this email
As to the 'wee beasties' or 'critters' as I like to call them, we have made progress on this front over the last several years. Brendan O'Neill and Julie Grossman in my laboratory, Sui Mai Tsai, our Brazilian collaborator at CENA and the University of Sao Paulo, and Biqing Liang, and many others in Johannes Lehmann's laboratory have been characterizing microbial populations in three different terra preta soils and comparing these to the adjacent, unmodified soils near by to them.
Brendan found that populations of culturable bacteria and fungi are higher in the terra preta soils, as compared to the unmodified soils, in all cases.
Yet, Biqing found that the respiratory activity of these populations is lower (see Liang et al., 2006), even when fresh organic matter is added.
This alone means that the turnover of organic matter is slower in the terra preta soils - suggesting that the presence of black C in the terra pretas is helping to stabilize labile organic matter and is itself not turning over in the short term.
All good news for C sequestration.
However, since the respiratory activity is lower (slower decomposition), this may lead to slower release of other mineral nutrient associated with the fresh organic inputs.
In some circumstances this is a good thing (maintaining nutrient release over the growing season),
in other circumstances (more immobilization), perhaps not.
We need more work on this to understand the implications of these results more fully.
You say "Boreal forests serve as important global sinks of carbon" I thought the jury was still out (-or not, yet, sent out?) on this. I have only seen one paper saying this; and many others saying the only 'carbon-forest-sinks' are those in the tropics.
* Was there any ash in the charcoal you used?
* What was the C % of the humus.
* what was the pH of you charcoal and your soil? Did this change over time?
* Was there any increased plant growth?
* Wouldn't leaching of soluble compounds be more likely to be less, (not more, as you suggest) with Char given its adsorption properties?
* Could you please comment on figure 'D" in your paper. Where is the N? and where is it coming from?
You paper address an important issue. Like most research it throws up more questions than it answers.
* It would be nice to deign a closed loop experiment controlling as many variables as possible and placing char in soil more naturally. This might need little "space capsules" around each tree as is happening in long-term research on trees at the University of Western Sydney. Unfortunately they are not looking at Charcoal's role in the soil.
* It would be nice to look at nitrous oxide emissions for example. A far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.Nitrous Oxide: Forgotten Greenhouse Gas No Laughing Matter | Scientific Blogging
* It would be nice to see how much C was captured by increased tree growth and soil AMF/bacteria, fungi etc encouraged by the presence of different amounts of charcoal.
* It would be nice if this charcoal could me mixed with soil in a more natural way.
* it would be nice to see how interacting pHs of all components in the experimental recipe effect each other.
* 50% char to humus seems high. What would 5-10% do?
* it would be nice to know the response of mycorrhizal fungi to biochar.
While I realise researchers need to simplify and control variables in research I have long argued here, and in other forums, that Terra preta Farming/gardening needs to be seen in a Gestalt. A dynamic interaction between charcoal (ground up and put in the soil by humans), Soil SOM will need to be constantly added, terracotta, fish, fishbones bones and other wastes (river algae?) are also part of the mix.
Why are Terra preta soils said to "grow" by native Amazonian Indians? Is this because of the increased soil life or has the Amazon got some special "wee beasties" in its soil?
I didn't know where to put this in Hypography but thought it should be put somewhere.
If anyone has any small, unused ponds could you please post them to Australia?
Small ponds absorb as much carbon as oceans - Thaindian News
Small ponds absorb as much carbon as oceans
May 9th, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by admin - Email This Post Email This Post
Washington, May 9 (IANS) Ponds around the world can absorb as much carbon as the world’s oceans, according to the latest study, good news for attempts to tackle climate change.
For example, ponds and lakes on US farmland alone bury carbon 20 to 50 fold more than trees trap carbon. In addition, ponds were found to take up carbon at a higher rate than larger lakes.
. . .
“The combined effect is that farm ponds could be burying as much carbon as the world’s oceans each year.”