SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Summary

In Brazil, most Eucalyptus stands have been planted on Cerrado (shrubby savanna) or on Cerrado converted into pasture. Case studies are needed to assess the effect of such land use changes on soil fertility and C sequestration. In this study, the influence of Cerrado land development (pasture and Eucalyptus plantations) on soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (SON) stocks were quantified in southern Brazil. Two contrasted silvicultural practices were also compared: 60 years of short-rotation silviculture (EUCSR) versus 60 years of continuous growth (EUCHF). C and N soil concentrations and bulk densities were measured and modelled for each vegetation type, and SOC and SON stocks were calculated down to a depth of 1 m by a continuous function.

Changes in SOC and SON stocks mainly occurred in the forest floor (no litter in pasture and up to 0.87 kg C m−2 and 0.01 kg N m−2 in EUCSR) and upper soil horizons. C and N stocks and their confidence intervals were greatly influenced by the methodology used to compute these layers. C/N ratio and 13C analysis showed that down to a depth of 30 cm, the Cerrado organic matter was replaced by organic matter from newly introduced vegetation by as much as 75–100% for pasture and about 50% for EUCHF, poorer in N for Eucalyptus stands (C/N larger than 18 for Eucalyptus stands). Under pasture, 0–30 cm SON stocks (0.25 kg N m−2) were between 10 and 20% greater than those of the Cerrado (0.21 kg N m−2), partly due to soil compaction (limit bulk density at soil surface from 1.23 for the Cerrado to 1.34 for pasture). Land development on the Cerrado increased SOC stocks in the 0–30 cm layer by between 15 and 25% (from 2.99 (Cerrado) to 3.86 (EUCSR) kg C m−2). When including litter layers, total 0–30 cm carbon stocks increased by 35% for EUCHF (4.50 kg C m−2) and 53% for EUCSR (5.08 kg C m−2), compared with the Cerrado (3.28 kg C m−2), independently of soil compaction.