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Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 17;6:28011. doi: 10.1038/srep28011.

Improvement of physical, chemical, and biological properties of aridisol from Botswana by the incorporation of torrefied biomass.

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RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan.
Graduate School of Medical Life Science, Yokohama City University, 1-7-29 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan.
Department of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Private Bag 0033, Gaborone, Botswana.
Faculty of Agriculture, Tottori University, 4-101 Koyama-cho, Tottori 680-8533, Japan.
Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, 1 Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-0810, Japan.


Effective use of agricultural residual biomass may be beneficial for both local and global ecosystems. Recently, biochar has received attention as a soil enhancer, and its effects on plant growth and soil microbiota have been investigated. However, there is little information on how the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil amended with biochar are affected. In this study, we evaluated the effects of the incorporation of torrefied plant biomass on physical and structural properties, elemental profiles, initial plant growth, and metabolic and microbial dynamics in aridisol from Botswana. Hemicellulose in the biomass was degraded while cellulose and lignin were not, owing to the relatively low-temperature treatment in the torrefaction preparation. Water retentivity and mineral availability for plants were improved in soils with torrefied biomass. Furthermore, fertilization with 3% and 5% of torrefied biomass enhanced initial plant growth and elemental uptake. Although the metabolic and microbial dynamics of the control soil were dominantly associated with a C1 metabolism, those of the 3% and 5% torrefied biomass soils were dominantly associated with an organic acid metabolism. Torrefied biomass was shown to be an effective soil amendment by enhancing water retentivity, structural stability, and plant growth and controlling soil metabolites and microbiota.

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