Indicators of physical quality of soils are important tools in the study of changes that occur in soils brought about by use and management practices. The objective of this study was to use the least limiting water range (LLWR) and S value (the slope of the soil water retention curve at its inflection point) to quantify soil physical changes promoted by grazing system in comparison with soil under forest vegetation. The study was carried out in an Oxisol under native vegetation and grazing. At these sites disturbed and undisturbed samples were collected at depths of 0-5 and 25-30 cm. The samples were used for chemical and physical analyzes. The S-value varied depending on land use. Except under native vegetation (at 0-5 cm depth), the S-index values were below the limit suggested to permit discriminating between soils with good and poor structural quality. The LLWR was strongly reduced under grazing, reaching zero values. The main limiting factor to water availability was soil resistance, which except under natural vegetation (0-5 cm), was the factor that determined the lower threshold for water availability in all areas and studied depths. Regarding the assessment of the physical quality of soils, the indicators of soil physical quality, LLWR and S value, yielded similar results and were able to indicated physical changes that occurred in the soil under the grazing system.
Soil management; soil compaction; soil resistance