Few studies have evaluated the application of biochar to forest ecosystems and their responses under field conditions. We manually spread grounded biochar on the forest floor, at rates of 0 (control), 5, and 10 Mg ha−1 (C0, C5 and C10, respectively), of an oak forest in central Japan to test the effects of biochar on tree growth and productivity. The relative growth rate of the diameter at breast height (dbh) of canopy oak trees (dbh > 20 cm) significantly increased in C10 compared with that of the control (C0), but not in C5, in the second to third years after application. Despite the increasing growth rate of canopy trees, foliage production (NPPF ) and woody production (NPPW ) did not respond to biochar application. Conversely, the production of reproductive organs (NPPR, mainly oak acorns) increased in line with the biochar application rate gradients (1.04 ± 0.09 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in C0, 1.30 ± 0.08 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in C5, and 1.47 ± 0.13 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in C10). Since the contribution of NPPR to total NPP was fairly small, there were no significant differences in total NPP (=NPPW + NPPF + NPPR ) for C5 (14.57 ± 0.20 Mg ha−1 yr−1 ) or C10 (16.11 ± 0.73 Mg ha−1 yr−1 ) compared with the control (15.07 ± 0.48 Mg ha−1 yr−1 ).
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