Ciencia del suelo
versión On-line ISSN 1850-2067
FERRERAS, Laura et al. Physical quality indicators in soils from the northern Pampa region of Argentina under no till management. Cienc. suelo [online]. 2007, vol.25, n.2, pp. 159-172. ISSN 1850-2067.
Sustainable land use implies the conservation of soil properties associated both to fertility and tillage. Soil alterations induced by management may affect crop production since management practices influence organic matter distribution and nutrient dynamics, and also soil aggregation and porosity. The Argentinean Northern Pampa is one of the region of the world where soils have been subjected to an intensive agricultural use during the last decades, and where direct drilling has been increasingly adopted. The aim of the present work was to evaluate soil physical quality parameters from agricultural systems under no tillage, in soils representative of the Northern Pampa Region, and to compare them with the same soil type but under pristine condition. A soil physical characterization of plots under cropping was carried out on eleven fields included in the Nutrition Network of CREA Southern Santa Fe, with trials located in Santa Fe, Córdoba and Buenos Aires Provinces. Also, a sampling in an adjacent undisturbed sector with the same soil type was carried out. Soil composite samples were collected at two depths (0-0.08 m and 0.08 m to the lower limit of the Ap horizon). Water and ethanol stable aggregate percentage (Ea and Ee, respectively), total organic carbon (COT), bulk density (DA) and maximum soil density were determined (DMAX). Mechanical resistance (RM) was measured at 0.05 m increments from the soil surface to 0.35 m depth. Soils were clustered in two groups according to their texture: Group I (surface clay content between 215 and 265 g kg-1) and Group II (surface clay content between 98 and 170 g kg-1). Higher values of Ea, Ee and COT were found in both surface and deep layers in the undisturbed soil with respect to cropped soil (p < 0.05). Soils from Group I showed higher Ea, Ee and COT with respect to those from the Group II. Total organic carbon decrease because of management was between 10 and 44%. Direct relationships were found between Ea and COT, and Ee-COT, respectively. Soils from the Group I showed higher levels of Ea than soils from Group II at similar COT contents. Bulk density and DMAX were higher in soils from cropped plots than in the reference undisturbed soils. Soils from the Group I showed, in general, lower DA and DMAX values, at both sampling depths, than those from the Group II. An inverse relationship was found between DMAX and COT. The loss of COT and the structural instability increase soil susceptibility to compaction. The RM from the cropped plots was higher to that from the undisturbed soils, and reached values greater than the limit of 2.0 MPa, at which root growth and fluids supply are affected. Soil indicators of physical fertility that were more sensitive or more informative in this study were Ea and Ee. The analysis of soil structure contributes to understand the effect of external factors on the soil, particularly the anthropogenic ones.
Palabras clave : Soil physical properties; Structural stability; Soil compaction; Mechanical resistance; Organic carbon; No-tillage.