Pyrogenic organic carbon (PyC) is a heterogenous mixture of thermally altered residues, ranging from slightly charred plant biomass to soot. Despite its apparent stability in soils, PyC has been reported to either increase or decrease (priming effect, PE), or have no effect on the mineralization rates of native soil organic matter (SOM), highlighting our limited knowledge on the mechanisms driving PyC-induced PE. Little is known about how PyC's pyrolysis temperature, and soil depth (surface versus subsurface) affect the direction of PE. To address this gap knowledge, we conducted from a 1-year laboratory incubation study aimed to investigate the interactive effects of pyrolysis temperature and soil depth on the mineralization rates of native SOM in fine-loamy, temperate forest soil that received additions of dual-labeled 13C and 15N jack pine pyrogenic organic matter produced at 300oC (PyC300) and 450oC (PyC450). Soil and PyC mixture were incubated in surface (0-10 cm) and subsurface (50-70 cm) forest soils in the dark at 55% soil field capacity and 25oC. Losses of native SOM as 13CO2 were measured periodically from the 13C-labeled PyC, and native (unlabeled) SOM during the incubation study using a Thermo Scientific GasBench interfaced to a Delta V Plus isotope ratio mass spectrometer. In surface soils, the addition of PyC300 decreased the turnover rates of native C relative to control treatments, whereas PyC400 had no effect on native C turnover rates. In subsurface soils, neither PyC300 nor PyC400 additions affected native C turnover rates. Our preliminary findings suggest that pyrolysis temperature is an important factor driving the persistence of soil C in Sierra Nevada forest soils.
Santos, F.; Bird, J.A.; Berhe, A.A. (2017): Responses of soil carbon turnover rates to pyrogenic carbon additions to a forest soil of Sierra Nevada, California: effects of pyrolysis temperature and soil depth. Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, December 2017. Abstract B41F-2040..