عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction Traditional organic manure can be potentially beneﬁcial for soil physical, chemical and biological properties by improving organic matter of soils. Recently, biochar, a carbon rich product of biomass produced by thermochemical conversion under oxygen-limited conditions, has been studied for its effects as a soil amendment. The use of a modified form of manure as manure biochar for soil improvement reduces some environmental, food safety and disposal problems of manures. However, biochar application has been shown to have a positive and negative effect on soil fauna such as earthworm depending on the type of feedstock for its production. Since earthworm function affects physical properties and amount of organic carbon of soils and because of the different effect of biochar and its feedstock on earthworm activity, this study hypothesizes that earthworm may differently alter soil physical properties and aggregates associated carbon in the biochar and its feedstock amended soils. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of cow manure and its biochar in the presence and absence of earthworm on bulk density, total porosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity, aggregate stability and content of organic carbon in soil aggregates during 30 and 90 days incubation.
Materials and Methods A completely randomized design with 2×4×2 factorial treatment combination was used in triplicates. Treatment variants examined in this study included the following: (i) 2 levels of amendment type (cow manure and its biochar), (ii) 4 levels of applied amendment rate (0, 1, 2 and 5%), (iii) 2 levels of earthworm (with and without earthworm). The biochar was produced from cow manure (passed through 2 mm mesh) by slow pyrolysis at 450 °C. For this experiment, the soil sample was passed through 4 mm mesh. Then, amended soil and the control were moistened up to 70% water holding capacity. Then 5 adult Eisenia fetida with fully-developed clitellum and similar weight were added to half of them. Treatments were then incubated at laboratory temperature and constant moisture for 30 and 90 days. Based on evaporation loss, the soil moisture was kept constant by regular weighing of each pot. At the end of each time (30 and 90 days), samples were taken from different treatments to determine bulk density, total porosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity. Also, soil aggregates were separated by wet sieving, then aggregate size distribution was determined and mean weight diameter (MWD) was calculated, also organic carbon content in each aggregate size fraction was determined.
Results and Discussion The results showed that the application of both organic amendments was effective in decreasing soil bulk density, increasing total porosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity and aggregate stability, but the effects of organic amendments on these physical properties were more pronounced in cow manure- than biochar-amended soils. Further reduction in bulk density following manure application is attributed to a dilution effect, resulting from mixing of the lighter material of manure with denser mineral fractions of the soil. In addition, cow manure has more content of organic carbon than its biochar which can increase total porosity by promoting aggregation. The greater porosity and aggregation of soils as affected by the application of organic amendments are apparently responsible for the increased saturated hydraulic conductivity. The results showed that the effect of cow manure on the soil physical properties reduced with time more rapidly than its biochar. It might be attributed to lower stability of manure to degradation than biochar in soils because manure contains higher content of labile organic compounds compared to biochar. Our results also showed that application of organic amendments led to increase organic carbon in soil aggregates, especially in 4-2 mm aggregates, indicating that the large macro-aggregates can be considered as a susceptible indicator to organic carbon managements in soil. Also, the organic carbon content of 4-2, 2-0.25 and 0.25-0.05 mm aggregates was 42.8, 27.8 and 20.8% (in 30 days incubation) and 27.2, 28.6% and 20.6% (in 90 days of incubation) higher in cow manure- than biochar-amended soils. The results also showed that earthworm reduced soil bulk density, increased total porosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity and aggregate stability regardless of soil amendment but such effect on bulk density and total porosity was more pronounced in cow manure- than biochar-amended soils. It means that type of organic amendments can influence on earthworm activity, thereby altering some soil physical properties. Also, earthworm led to increase carbon content in soil aggregates, especially in smaller aggregates.
Conclusion The results showed that although application of cow manure improved soil physical properties more than cow manure biochar at both incubation times, it seems that cow manure biochar has a more stable effect on the soil physical properties over time. Also, application of organic amendments can lead to increase soil organic carbon by further increasing C in larger aggregates. Other results indicated that the improving effect of earthworm on soil physical properties (except for bulk density and total porosity) did not depend on the type of applied organic amendment in soil. The effect of earthworm on bulk density and total porosity was more pronounced in soils amended with cow manure than its biochar. Also, it is thought that earthworm increases organic carbon in soil by physical stabilization of organic carbon in soil aggregates, especially in smaller aggregates.