Sugarcane planting area in Brazil has considerably increased during recent years by occupying areas used for pasture and grain crops production. Land use change (LUC) processes related to sugarcane expansion can affect the soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, and the quality of the soil organic matter. Preliminary studies have shown that the land-use transition into sugarcane leadto a decrease in the SOC, however no studies have accessed the impact of LUC on the SOC distribution within soil particle-size classes. The study investigated the modifications on total SOC, particulate organic carbon (POM) and mineral-associated C (MOC) in response to conversion from native vegetation (NV), pastures and annual cropland (AC) to sugarcane crop (SCN). Soil samples were collected at 34 field-sites to 20 cm depth and POM fraction separated through 53-mm sieve after soil dispersion. The study results indicated that LUC affects both the labile as well as the more stable SOM fraction, with a mean C content decreasing of 40 and 30% in POM and MOC respectively, following the transition from NV to SCN. The replacement of pastures caused C depletion by 33% at POM and 30% at MOC; meanwhile C accumulation at MOC (5%) was detected for the conversion from AC to SCN. The impact of LUC on POM for AC-SCN transition could not be totally clarified, however the result could be an indication that the POM response to LUC varies as function of previous management in AC.
Key words: Soil organic carbon, C fractionation, particulate organic matter, mineral-associated C, land use change.
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