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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

Print version ISSN 0100-0683


BALOTA, Elcio Liborio  and  AULER, Pedro Antonio Martins. Soil microbial biomass under different management and tillage systems of permanent intercropped cover species in an orange orchard. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2011, vol.35, n.6, pp.1873-1883. ISSN 0100-0683.

To mitigate soil erosion and enhance soil fertility in orange plantations, the permanent protection of the inter-rows by cover species has been suggested. The objective of this study was to evaluate alterations in the microbial biomass, due to different soil tillage systems and intercropped cover species between rows of orange trees. The soil of the experimental area previously used as pasture (Brachiaria humidicola) was an Ultisol (Typic Paleudult) originating from Caiuá sandstone in the northwestern part of the State of Paraná, Brazil. Two soil tillage systems were evaluated: conventional tillage (CT) in the entire area and strip tillage (ST) (strip width 2 m), in combination with different ground cover management systems. The citrus cultivar 'Pera' orange (Citrus sinensis) grafted onto 'Rangpur' lime rootstock was used. Soil samples were collected after five years of treatment from a depth of 0-15 cm, under the tree canopy and in the inter-row, in the following treatments: (1) CT and an annual cover crop with the leguminous species Calopogonium mucunoides; (2) CT and a perennial cover crop with the leguminous peanut Arachis pintoi; (3) CT and an evergreen cover crop with Bahiagrass Paspalum notatum; (4) CT and a cover crop with spontaneous Brachiaria humidicola grass vegetation; and (5) ST and maintenance of the remaining grass (pasture) of Brachiaria humidicola. Soil tillage and the different cover species influenced the microbial biomass, both under the tree canopy and in the inter-row. The cultivation of brachiaria increased C and N in the microbial biomass, while bahiagrass increased P in the microbial biomass. The soil microbial biomass was enriched in N and P by the presence of ground cover species and according to the soil P content. The grass species increased C, N and P in the soil microbial biomass from the inter-row more than leguminous species.

Keywords : microbial activity; soil tillage; nutrient cycling; citrus management.

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