Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo
Print version ISSN 0100-0683
BETIOLI JUNIOR, Edner et al. Least limiting water range and degree of soil compaction of an oxisol after 30 years of no-tillage. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2012, vol.36, n.3, pp. 971-982. ISSN 0100-0683. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-06832012000300027.
The soil physical quality is one of the factors that determine the agronomic, economic and environmental sustainability in long-term no-tillage systems (NT). Soil compaction has been discussed as a factor that contributes to a reduction in physical quality under NT. However, the use of NT can increase soil organic matter and lead to a continuous and stable porous system that mitigates the negative impacts of compaction. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the physical quality of an Oxisol after 30 years of NT, using the least limiting water range (LLWR) and the degree of soil compaction (DC). The soil was sampled in a plantation with a history of high yields under NT. Soil samples with undisturbed and disturbed structure were collected to determine bulk density (BD), the LLWR and DC. The samples with undisturbed structure were taken from three sampling positions: from the rows (R); from the middle in-between two rows (M) and from an intermediate position (IP) between the R and M of corn plants. The water retention curve, soil resistance curve and BD were determined. The disturbed soil sample was used to obtain the compaction curve using the Proctor test. The Dmax was obtained from the compaction curve and DC was determined by the ratio between the BD and Dmax. Regardless of the critical limits of resistance to penetration (RP), there is a reduction of the LLWR with increasing BD. The highest values of LLWR were observed in the R sampling position and the use of critical RP > 2.0 MPa resulted in a LLWR consistent with the soil physical quality in long-term NT. The Dmax was 1.52 kg dm-3 and DC ranged from 64 to 87 %, with the highest values obtained from the positions M and IP. The values of LLWR and DC recorded in this study suggest that the physical quality of this soil after 30 years of NT is not limiting to crop production.
Keywords : soil physical quality; bulk density; soil structure; soil penetration resistance.