Biochar amendment improves alpine meadows growth and soil health in Tibetan plateau over a three year period

Muhammad Khalid Rafiq, Bai Yanfu, Raksanda Aziz, Muhammad Tariq Rafiq, Ondrej Masek, Robert Thomas Bachmann, Stephen Joseph, Maqbool Shahbaz, Abdul Qayyum, Shang Zhanhuan, Mahmoud Danaee, Long Ruijun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous biochar research has primarily focused on agricultural annual cropping systems with very little attention given to highly fragile, complex and diverse natural alpine grassland ecosystems. The present study investigated the effect of biochar on the growth of alpine meadows and soil health. This study was conducted in the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau over a three year period to investigate the effect of three rice husk biochar application rates alone and combination with high and low NPK fertilizer dosages on alpine meadow productivity, soil microbial diversity as well as pH, carbon and nitrogen content at 0–10 cm and 10–20 cm depth. At the end of the 3rd year soil samples were analysed and assessed by combined analysis of variance. The results showed that biochar application in combination with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilizer had a significant increase in fresh and dry biomass during the second and third year of the study as compared to control and alone biochar application (p ≤ 0.05). Biochar alone and in combination with NPK fertilizer resulted in a significant increase in the soil pH and carbon contents of the soil. XPS results, the SEM imaging and EDS analysis of aged biochar demonstrated that the biochar has undergone complex changes over the 3 years as compared to fresh biochar. This research suggests that biochar has positive effect on alpine meadow growth and soil health and may be an effective tool for alpine meadow restoration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


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