ProjectCharStabil – Are interactions of labile substrates with biochars the key process explaining C stabilization by…

Basic data

Are interactions of labile substrates with biochars the key process explaining C stabilization by biochars? A proof of concept by isotopic approaches
01/06/2022 to 31/03/2024
Abstract / short description:
Refractory and labile substances play a significant role in the dynamics of soil organic matter and have key ecological functions. Only little information, however, is available on the interactions between labile substrates and biochar – a lack which hampers any prognoses of soil processes and critical appraisals of biochar applications for improving soil quality. This proposal aims at identifying transformation pathways for substrates of increasing complexity in the order low molecular weight organic substances, mucilage, fine roots and coarse roots in contact with biochar in incubations. A mechanistic understanding of the resulting biological, biophysical and biochemical interactions and reactions will be achieved by employing dual isotopic labelling for biochar (C-13) and substrates (C-14) and following the pathways using biological analyses and soil partitioning into density and aggregate fractions. The factorial experimental designs in combination with soil biological, biophysical and biochemical analyses will allow elucidation of the effects of substrates, substrate application rate, biochar age and soil moisture on the interactions and pathways.Near and mid-infrared spectroscopy in different measurement modes will be employed to characterize the substrates, i.e. pure (freshly produced) biochar, light fractions of the mixtures of soils and biochar during biochar ageing and mixtures of soils, mucilage and fresh or aged biochar using band assignments. Additionally, improved quantitative determinations using the full spectra with foci on estimation accuracies for pure, coated and aged substances will be achieved using an optimization of chemometric approaches.The results of the dual isotopic labelling approaches in combination with the spectroscopic approaches will give a mechanistic understanding of the key processes explaining C stabilization by biochars. Providing the tools to differentiate the impact of pure and aged biochars on soil processes, this project will allow an improved quantification and evaluation of the use of biochars in agriculture.
stabilization of carbon
surface interactions

Involved staff


Center for Applied Geoscience
Department of Geoscience, Faculty of Science

Local organizational units

Center for Applied Geoscience
Department of Geoscience
Faculty of Science


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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