Spatial variability of soil pH and phosphorus in relation to soil run-off following slah-and-burn land clearing in Sumatra, Indonesia

J. Rodenburg, A. Stein, M. van Noordwijk, Q.M. Ketterings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Slash-and-burn land clearing on sloping land may lead to increased soil run-off following disappearance of the protective vegetative cover. In turn, soil run-off and redeposition affects soil fertility and spatial patterns of fertility parameters in a field. This study seeks to clarify the role of spatial patterns of post-burn dead biomass (necromass) in soil run-off and redeposition and their combined effect on spatial patterns in soil pH and resin-extractable P. The study is carried out on a post-productive rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) agroforest in Sumatra, Indonesia. Soils are classified as Dystric Fluvisols. After slash-and-burn of vegetation, the field was planted with rubber seedlings and rice (Oryza sativa). For comparison the adjacent rubber agroforest site was sampled. Soil run-off is expressed here as the quantity of downward moving soil that passed the specific location of a flow trap. Existing physical soil run-off barriers and crop performance were scored. Despite serious soil run-off from the steeper upper slopes little soil was actually lost because of the slope form of the field, presence of natural soil run-off barriers, and the planted crop. Spatial variability of soil pH decreased at the expense of small-scale, within-strata, variability mainly because of the patchy distribution of soil run-off barriers. Soil run-off, aggravated by slash-and-burn, did not result in development of a clear soil fertility gradient down slope. In areas of high soil run-off potential, clear burns should be avoided because soil run-off barriers like remnants of slash-and-burn and surface litter maintain the soil and its fertility. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • agriculture
  • fertility
  • dynamics
  • farmers

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