EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Conifer wood biochar as an amendment for agricultural soils in South-Tyrol: impact on greenhouse gases emissions and soil carbon stocks

Irene Criscuoli1, Maurizio Ventura1, Katja Wiedner2, Bruno Glaser3, Pietro Panzacchi1,4, Christian Ceccon1, Marta Petrillo1, Damiano Zanotelli1, Carlo Andreotti1, and Giustino Tonon1
Irene Criscuoli et al.
  • 1Free University of Bolzano, Faculty of Science and Technology, 39100 Bolzano/Bozen, Italy (
  • 2Eurofins Umwelt Nord GmbH, Luttertal 70, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
  • 3Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Faculty of Natural Sciences III, Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Soil Biogeochemistry, Von-Seckendorf-Platz 3, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
  • 4Dipartimento di Bioscienze e Territorio, Università degli studi del Molise, 86090 Pesche (IS), Italy

Biochar is a carbonaceous material produced through the pyro-gasification of biomass. In the last decade, biochar has been proposed as a soil amendment because it can improve soil physico-chemical properties and carbon stocks, contributing to climate change mitigation.

In the framework of the Wood-Up project (Optimization of WOOD gasification chain in South Tyrol to prodUce bioenergy and other high-value green Products to enhance soil fertility and mitigate climate change, FESR1028), we studied the impact of conifer wood biochar on the emissions of the main greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the soil: carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4), as well as on the soil carbon stock of agricultural fields in South Tyrol.

In May 2017, 25 and 50 t ha-1 of pure biochar and biochar mixed with compost (45 t ha-1), were applied to the soil of a vineyard near Merano (South-Tyrol, northern Italy) following a randomized block experimental design with four replicates per treatment.

Soil GHGs fluxes were monitored from June 2017 until December 2019. Fluxes were measured, in real time, with a high-resolution portable multi-gas analyzer based on cavity ring-down spectroscopy technology (Picarro inc., Santa Clara, CA, USA) connected to an automated dynamic chambers system (Eosense Inc., Dartmouth, NS, Canada). Gas emissions were measured monthly and were related to soil temperature and moisture to evaluate the impact of treatments on the sensitivity of GHGs fluxes to environmental parameters. The stability of conifer wood biochar in soil was assessed through the quantification of the Benzene PolyCarboxylic Acids (BPCA), specific biomarkers of black carbon, over time. The BPCA content in the soil was measured before the application of biochar and compost, three weeks after the application and two years later.

During the first year of experiment, in biochar-amended soils, we observed a reduction of the temperature sensitivity of all GHGs fluxes in comparison to treatments without biochar (control and compost alone). In the second and third year an opposite trend was observed, with an increase of temperature sensitivity of GHGs fluxes in biochar-treated soil. The change of biochar effect over time might be linked to biochar ageing in soil. However, a role of soil moisture cannot be excluded, as it was higher in the first year of experiment. The experimental results will be presented in the broader context of the Wood-Up project.

How to cite: Criscuoli, I., Ventura, M., Wiedner, K., Glaser, B., Panzacchi, P., Ceccon, C., Petrillo, M., Zanotelli, D., Andreotti, C., and Tonon, G.: Conifer wood biochar as an amendment for agricultural soils in South-Tyrol: impact on greenhouse gases emissions and soil carbon stocks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6817,, 2020


Display file