Carbon indices to assess quality of management systems in a Subtropical Acrisol




conservation agriculture, cropping systems, no-till, quality indicators


Management systems to improve soil quality are essential for agricultural and environmental sustainability. We assessed the quality of soil management systems applied to a subtropical Acrisol in terms of the carbon management index (CMI), the stratification ratio for total organic carbon (SR-TOC) and light fraction of organic matter (SR-LF). In addition, we examined their relationship to chemical, physical and biological soil quality indicators, as well as to maize yield. The study was conducted on a long-term experiment (18 years) in southern Brazil involving two different systems [no tillage (NT) and conventional tillage (CT)], two cropping systems [black oat/maize (O/M) and black oat + vetch/maize + cowpea (OV/MC)] and two nitrogen fertilizer rates for maize (0 and 180 kg ha–1). Based on the three indices, the best managements for soil quality comprised NT (50-212 % better than CT), legume cover crops (10-47 % better than O/M) and N fertilization (8-33 % better than no fertilizer). All three indices proved accurate to assess the impact of soil management systems, especially SR-LF, which showed increased sensitivity and close relationships with chemical, physical and biological soil quality indicators. On the other hand, a poor relationship was observed between soil C indices and maize yield, which was improved only by legume cover crops and N fertilization. The results showed that the association of no-till system to an abundant supply of crop residues is key to ensure high soil quality and crop yields in humid subtropical regions.


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Soils and Plant Nutrition

How to Cite

Carbon indices to assess quality of management systems in a Subtropical Acrisol. (2019). Scientia Agricola, 76(6), 501-508.