The addition of biochar to the forest floor should facilitate efficient carbon sequestration. However, little is known about how biochar addition effects litter decomposition, which is related to carbon and nutrient dynamics in forest ecosystems. This study evaluated the effect of biochar addition on leaf litter decomposition in a forest ecosystem. To examine whether leaf litter decomposition was stimulated above and below biochar, litterbag experiments were carried out for about 3 years in a field site where biochar was added at the rate of 0, 5 and 10 t ha−¹ (C0, C5 and C10 plots) to the forest floor in a temperate oak forest, Japan. Biochar addition at C10 significantly enhanced litter decomposition below biochar for 2 years after treatment and above biochar for 1 year after treatment. Litter water content in biochar plots tended to increase under dry conditions. Biochar addition enhanced litter decomposition because of increased microbial activity with increased moisture content and accelerated the decomposition progress rather than changing the decomposition pattern. However, the carbon emission through changing leaf litter decomposition was small when compared with the carbon addition by biochar, indicating that biochar could be an effective material for carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems.
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