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Soil organic carbon stock change due to land use activity along the agricultural frontier of the southwestern Amazon, Brazil, between 1970 and 2002

Authors

  • STOÉCIO M. F. MAIA,

    1. Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Universidade de São Paulo (CENA – USP), CP 96, Av. Centenário 303, 13416-000 Piracicaba SP, Brazil
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  • STEPHEN M. OGLE,

    1. Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, 80523 Fort Collins, CO, USA
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  • CARLOS E. P. CERRI,

    1. Departamento de Ciência do Solo, Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz,” Universidade de São Paulo (ESALQ — USP), Av. Pádua Dias 11, 13418-900 Piracicaba SP, Brazil
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  • CARLOS C. CERRI

    1. Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Universidade de São Paulo (CENA – USP), CP 96, Av. Centenário 303, 13416-000 Piracicaba SP, Brazil
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Stoécio M.F. Maia, tel. +55 19 3429 4723, fax +55 19 3429 4726, e-mail: stoecio@hotmail.com

Abstract

The southwestern portion of the Brazilian Amazon arguably represents the largest agricultural frontier in the world, and within this region the states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso have about 24% and 32% of their respective areas under agricultural management, which is almost half of the total area deforested in the Brazilian Amazon biome. Consequently, it is assumed that deforestation in this region has caused substantial loss of soil organic carbon (SOC). In this study, the changes in SOC stocks due to the land use change and management in the southwestern Amazon were estimated for two time periods from 1970–1985 and 1985–2002. An uncertainty analysis was also conducted using a Monte Carlo approach. The results showed that mineral soils converted to agricultural management lost a total of 5.37 and 3.74 Tg C yr−1 between 1970–1985 and 1985–2002, respectively, along the Brazilian Agricultural Frontier in the states of Mato Grosso and Rondônia. Uncertainties in these estimates were ±37.3% and ±38.6% during the first and second time periods, respectively. The largest sources of uncertainty were associated with reference carbon (C) stocks, expert knowledge surveys about grassland condition, and the management factors for nominal and degraded grasslands. These results showed that land use change and management created a net loss of C from soils, however, the change in SOC stocks decreased substantially from the first to the second time period due to the increase in land under no-tillage.

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