Savanna woodland soil micromorphology related to water retention

Micromorfologia de solo sob cerradão em relação à retenção de água

The limiting factors of the Brazilian savanna physical environment have been largely discussed. Soil morphology is fundamental to understand the behavior of soil water flow, soil physical properties and soil-landscape relationships. The aim of this study is to relate soil micro and macromorphologic attributes to soil water retention on a toposequence under native savanna woodland (cerradão) in a permanent plot of 320 m <FONT FACE=Symbol>´</FONT> 320 m installed in Assis, SP, Brazil. Samples collected at five points within the toposequence were used to determine the soil macroporosity by means of image analyses, estimated total porosity, chemical analysis, particle size distribution analysis and soil water retention. From the summit down to the footslope, the soils were classified as Rhodic Haplustox, Typic Haplustox and Epiaquic Haplustult, presenting a gradual color transition and a sandy loam texture. In the surface horizons, the higher organic matter content and the high total macroporosity determined a lower soil bulk density and lower water retention. In the Oxisols, the high soil macroporosity results from the packing of microaggregates in the oxic horizon. In the Ultisol, the lower total porosity in the deeper horizons resulted in a higher water retention and an imperfect water drainage. The water retention conditions on the slope influenced the morphological differences in soil color and structure. The low water retention on the surface and oxic horizons, conditioned by the high total macroporosity, is one of the factors that may define the vegetal pattern of the savanna woodland within the permanent plot.

Brazilian savanna; soil porosity; soil water flow; soil physical quality; toposequence

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