Temporal nutrient variation in soil and vegetation of post-forest pastures as a function of soil order, pasture age, and management, Rondonia, Brazil
Understanding pasture degradation processes is key for sustainable development in the Amazon region. Pasture degradation can be indexed by pasture nutritional status, which is impacted by environmental and human related factors. Most studies of the biogeochemistry of Amazonian pastures have been restricted to highly acidic soils with little focus on how management affects pasture biogeochemistry. We investigated soil physical and chemical properties and grass nutrients under different edaphic conditions and management practices in Rondonia state, in the southwestern Amazon region. Our objectives were to analyze the impacts of soil order, pasture age, and pasture management on soil fertility, bulk density and plant nutrients, in order to understand sustainability needs for the future of this region. We sampled 17 study sites on Oxisols, Ultisols, and Alfisols. The pasture age classes we used consisted of 6-10, 11-15, and >16 years including forest as the control. We also evaluated the impact of beef and dairy management strategies on pastures installed on Ultisols. Pastures on Alfisols showed the highest soil P, Ca, and base saturation, properties that decreased gradually after 5 years of pasture installation. In contrast, pastures on Oxisols showed low and stable levels of nutrients regardless of age. Foliar nutrient concentrations appear to be influenced by edaphic conditions. Soil P and foliar P concentration were highly correlated. In general, pasture age was a poor indicator of soil fertility and foliar chemistry because of high variability among pastures belonging to the same soil order. In terms of the impacts of pasture management, we did not observe significant differences in soil or foliar properties in pasture used for beef and dairy on Ultisols.