Newly implemented crop-livestock-forest systems increase available water and aeration in soils of the Brazilian Savannah

Thamires Marques Moura, Marcia Thais De Melo Carvalho, Luis Fernando Stone, Beata Emoke Madari, Darliane de Castro Santos, Estenio Moreira Alves, Emerson Trogello, Lucas Luis Faustino, Pedro Luiz Oliveira de Almeida Machado


There is a growing demand for cropping systems that guarantee food production by improving the use efficiency of natural resources such as soil and water. The crop-livestock-forest (CLF) system is a form of sustainable intensification in which biodiversity and yields are increased on the same area. In this study, the physical-hydric properties of a Ferralsol and Cambisol in Central Brazil within the Savannah biome (Cerrado) were investigated 2 and 1 year after implementation of CLF systems. Soil samples were collected at seven soil depths up to 1 meter deep in CLF systems, within and between rows of trees, in a native forest (NF) and in a non-cultivated pasture, which was used as a reference (P-REF) for comparing soil quality with CLF establishment. Statistical analysis of soil water retention capacity considered two soil layers, 0.0-0.3 and 0.3-1.0 m, using clay and gravel contents as covariates in a mixed model. Main differences were noted within 0.0-0.3 m soil layer. In the Ferralsol, the available water was 0.2-0.3 mm higher in the CLF than in the P-REF, mainly due to an improvement in Theta R and microporosity. The Cambisol, in turn, showed in CLF and in NF a higher aeration capacity by up to 0.3 m3 m-3 than in P-REF, as indicated by the Theta S and macroporosity values. The S index values showed that CLF can improve soil physical quality of light textured soils such as Cambisol in the short term compared to P-REF. This improvement in soil quality is key to sustaining food production under tropical conditions.


Soil water retention capacity, Pasture, Eucalyptus trees, Integration

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