Reclamation of Brazilian cerrados (savannas) has been intensified in the last decades, with implications for soil quality and soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics. Studying the impact of different tillage systems is essential to define better strategies for land use in Cerrado, which may favor C sequestration and improve soil quality. We used density fractionation and C-13 natural abundance to assess changes in SOM in an Oxisol previously under a cerrado sensu-stricto following 30 years of cultivation. The objectives of the study were to: (i) evaluate the long-term impact of tillage systems on SOM stocks in a Dark Red Latosol (Oxisol) from the Cerrado Biome, and (ii) better understand the dynamics of SOM in different density fractions of this soil. Cultivation led to compaction, which significantly increased soil bulk density. This resulted in the systematic overestimation of C and N stocks in cultivated areas when compared to the natural cerrado. Conversion of the cerrado into cropland using plow tillage (PT) or no-tillage (NT) system did not alter the total C (similar to100 Mg ha(-1)) and N (similar to7 Mg ha(-1)) stocks in the first 45 cm depth at the end of 30 years of cultivation. However, about 22% of the total C was replaced by C from maize. The relative replacement of C decreased following the order: free light fraction (F-LF) > heavy fraction (HF) > occluded light fraction (O-LF). The low substitution in the O-LF was attributed to a possible presence of charcoal. Converting cerrado into cropland significantly decreased F-LF quantity. The proportions of C replacement in this fraction were higher in PT than NT, suggesting a faster turnover in PT. Nevertheless, because most C (similar to95%) was held in the HF, C dynamics in the whole soil were controlled by the behavior of this fraction. The maintenance of C levels even at the end of 30 years of cultivation and the lack of differentiation between NT and PT were attributed to the high clay contents and Fe + Al oxi-hydroxides concentrations of the studied soil as well as to a sufficient C supply by the maize crop. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- particle-size fractions
- physical protection