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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

On-line version ISSN 1806-9657

Abstract

CHAER, Guilherme Montandon  and  TOTOLA, Marcos Rogério. Impact of organic residue management on soil quality indicators during replanting of eucalypt stands. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2007, vol.31, n.6, pp.1381-1396. ISSN 1806-9657.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-06832007000600016.

Agricultural soil use induces changes in soil physical, chemical, and microbiological characteristics. These changes can eventually lead to a loss of soil quality and a consequent reduction in plant growth and productivity. The analysis of biochemical and microbiological soil quality indicators is relevant to monitor changes in soil quality and in the performance of key soil functions, such as the capacity of nutrient cycling and storage. This study reports on physical, chemical, and biochemical/microbiological quality indicators of soil under eucalyptus plantation, evaluated 5.5 years after the site had undergone different management practices during stand replanting. Evaluations were based on the determination of 18 physical or chemical besides 12 biochemical or microbiological attributes that are considered soil quality indicators. The microbiological and biochemical attributes proved more adequate than the chemical or physical indicators to detect soil quality changes due to management. The greatest disturbance caused by the removal or burning of organic material on the soil surface was evidenced by the higher qCO2 and lower qMIC in the upper soil layer (0 to 5 cm). The principal component analysis underlying the graphical representation demonstrated that soil under secondary forest, taken as reference for soil quality, was very distant from that under eucalyptus, demonstrating that the introduction of eucalyptus monoculture causes significant changes in soil quality. The soil quality of a eucalyptus stand left unharvested after the first normal seven years cycle (11 year-old stand) was the closest to the area with native forest, followed by the soils under eucalyptus subjected to management systems that prioritized organic residue conservation during stand replanting. Contrarily, areas from which the organic material at the soil surface was removed or burned appeared very distant from the reference area. Our results show that the management system adopted during eucalyptus stand replanting influenced, in the medium term, the potential of soils to store and cycle nutrients via microbial biomass and associated biochemical activities. The fact that the 11 years old eucalyptus stand was closest to the reference area may suggest that the adoption of longer cycles for eucalyptus plantations, contrasting with the actual model of short rotation eucalyptus forests in Brazil (about seven years), is relevant to maintain soil sustainability for eucalyptus production in the long run, in spite of the lower mean annual productivity. In this case, the option for a higher productivity in the short and medium term, or for the sustainability of soil use, with the consequent maintenance of its quality for the future generations, should be reevaluated from the data presented here.

Keywords : forest management; sustainability; microbial biomass; soil enzymes.

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