Physical properties of soils under intensive agricultural management

Propriedades físicas de solos submetidos a práticas intensivas de manejo

Pedologic alterations after long-term sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) cropping cycles under traditional soil management systems were studied on a farm in Bariri, SP, Brazil. A toposequence was established to evaluate the effects of the soil position in the relief in changing soil physical attributes. Morphological field descriptions and laboratory analyses were carried out on vertical profiles of the upper, middle and lower thirds of a Typic Haplorthox slope. Soil bulk density and macroporosity changed along the toposequence reflecting on soil hydrodynamics, especially in the lower slope parts. At sites with high clay levels, empty spaces were filled forming block shaped structures together with the micro-aggregate structure. The intensive cultivation induced the greatest soil structure alterations, even at the deepest layers. The study pointed out the importance of performing detailed morphological observations in vertical profiles, due to the great variation on pedological attributes over short distances. Compacted soil sections were observed side-by-side with desaggregated mottles in the same soil profile. This fact evidenced that both vertical (in each profile) and horizontal gradients (along a toposequence) need to be considered in studies of time sequence variation of pedological parameters.

soil management; toposequence; aggregates; soil micromorphology

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