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Volume 4, issue 4 | Copyright

Special issue: Regional perspectives and challenges of soil organic carbon...

SOIL, 4, 251-257, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-4-251-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Original research article 01 Nov 2018

Original research article | 01 Nov 2018

Effect of deforestation and subsequent land use management on soil carbon stocks in the South American Chaco

Natalia Andrea Osinaga1, Carina Rosa Álvarez2, and Miguel Angel Taboada1,2,3 Natalia Andrea Osinaga et al.
  • 1CONICET, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 2University of Buenos Aires, School of Agronomy, Soil Fertility and Fertilizer, Av. San Martín 4453, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 1417, Argentina
  • 3Soil Institute, CIRN, INTA, Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Abstract. The subhumid Chaco region of Argentina, originally covered by dry sclerophyll forest, has been subjected to clearing since the end of the 1970s and replacement of the forest by no-till farming. Land use changes produced a decrease in aboveground carbon (C) stored in forests, but little is known about the impact on soil organic C stocks. The aim of this study was to evaluate soil C stocks and C fractions up to 1m depth in soils under different land use:  < 10-year continuous cropping,  > 20-year continuous cropping, warm-season grass pasture and native forest in 32 sites distributed over the Chaco region. The organic C stock content up to 1m depth expressed as equivalent mass varied as follows: forest (119.3Mgha−1) > pasture (87.9Mgha−1) > continuous cropping (71.9 and 77.3Mgha−1), with no impact of the number of years under cropping. The coarse particle fraction (2000–212µm) at 0–5 and 5–20cm depth layers was the most sensitive organic carbon fraction to land use change. Resistant carbon ( < 53µm) was the main organic matter fraction in all sample categories except in the forest. Organic C stock, its quality and its distribution in the profile were responsive to land use change. The conversion of the Chaco forest to crops was associated with a decrease of organic C stock up to 1m depth and with the decrease of the labile fraction. The permanent pastures of warm-season grasses allowed higher C stocks to be sustained than cropping systems and so could be considered a sustainable land use system in terms of soil C preservation. As soil organic C losses were not restricted to the first few centimetres of the soil, the development of models that would allow the estimation of soil organic C changes in depth would be useful to evaluate the impact of land use change on C stocks with greater precision.

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The sub-humid Argentine Chaco, originally covered by forest, has been subjected to clearing since the end of the 1970s and replacement of the forest by no-till farming. The organic carbon stock content up to 1 m depth varied as follows: forest > pasture > continuous cropping, with no impact of the number of years under cropping. The incorporation of pastures of warm-season grasses was able to mitigate the decrease of C stocks caused by cropping and so could be considered sustainable management.
The sub-humid Argentine Chaco, originally covered by forest, has been subjected to clearing...
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